Well-rounded Pitt center ready for future
A survey was done earlier this week to determine the intelligence level of Pitt senior starting center Chad Reed.
Among those asked about the big guy from Latrobe were his employer, his head coach, his position coach, a linemate and a member of the Pitt athletic department.
The results were overwhelming.
Survey said … Reed is on the ball, whether he's snapping one to the quarterback or partaking in matters away from the football field.
"He has a job here if football doesn't work out for him after college," said Paul DeSabato, owner of Professional Mortgage Group in Murrysville, where Reed interned as a loan officer this summer. "He picked up on everything so quickly — it was amazing. He started asking me questions I didn't know the answers to. I had to take a refresher course with him around."
Pitt offensive line coach Tom Freeman essentially uses Reed as an extra assistant, taking suggestions from him during video sessions and on game days.
"The smartest center I've ever coached," said Freeman, who's been in the business for 33 years and coached at places such as Purdue, Arizona State and San Diego State. "Knows everything. It's a great advantage for us."
The Reed Advantage is felt daily by starting left guard Dan LaCarte — "He knows every possible thing there is to know on the line, and I make sure I ask," LaCarte said. — head coach Walt Harris — "He's on top of it," Harris said. — and media relations director E.J. Borghetti, who takes Reed with him to every possible news conference.
"I think Chad is a great ambassador for the entire university, not just the football program," Borghetti said. "He's an incredibly hard working young man in the class room and on the football field. You never have to worry about how he'll represent himself and the program because he oozes class."
Reed, a communications and rhetoric major, was selected to the Big East All-Academic team the past two seasons and is a budding entrepreneur. A big reason he took the internship with DeSabato was to learn the ins and outs of buying and selling homes.
"Just planning for the future," Reed said.
At present, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Reed is preparing for his second full season as the starting center at Pitt. He won the job late in his sophomore year when Jeff McCurley switched to guard and has played in 27 games, the second most on the Panthers line.
Reed readily admits that he's not the biggest, strongest or fastest lineman out on the field but is supremely confident that he makes up for any perceived deficiencies with his vast knowledge of the game.
"I live off of my mental edge," said Reed, who's recovered from two surgeries on his right shoulder, the second of which kept him out of spring drills and requires him to wear a harness for stability. "I have to, because I can't assume I'm bigger or stronger than the guys lining up against me. I feel like I know my stuff as well as anybody, so that sets me above, because when you know where people are going, it doesn't matter how big or strong they are, you're going to beat them."
Reed is the linchpin on a line that could have to carry the Pitt offense early in the season while a new quarterback and two new wide receivers get settled. He is flanked at guard by second-year starter LaCarte and fourth-year starter Bryan Anderson — an Outland Trophy hopeful. The tackles are second-year starters Matt Morgan and Rob Petitti — a Big East All-Freshman pick in 2001 on the left side.
That unit came together last season in time for the Panthers to reel off six consecutive victories to close out the year, which stands as the second-longest winning streak in the nation. The front five opened up wide enough holes to enable the running backs to average nearly 150 yards per game during the streak, which was 44 yards more per game than what Panthers averaged during their 1-5 start.
They'll need to continue that trend as the passing game attempts to come together this fall.
"Something just started clicking for us," said Reed, who pointed out that LaCarte didn't get his first start until five games into the season, that Morgan didn't start until Week 4 and that Petitti was learning on the fly. "We went into the Temple game (which started the winning streak) and knew we should win. We had our best game there, then we kept feeding off of it. … Now, we feel like everything's in order, because we've been together and we've experienced success."
Thanks in large part to Reed, who is the quarterback of a line that returns all five starters for the first time ever during the Harris era.
"He picks up on everything, and that's such a benefit to the coaching staff," Freeman said of Reed, who originally joined Pitt in 1998, but postponed his enrollment after injuring his shoulder at training camp. He came back the following January to preserve his four years of eligibility. "He knows what everybody out there is doing at all times. It's always nice as a coach to take credit for a kid like that, but he did this through his hard work."
"I don't know what I would have done last year if I wasn't lined up next to him," LaCarte said. "He's was putting me in the right place all the time. That's what separates him from so many other linemen."
Freeman contends that Reed has a shot at playing beyond college, but Reed doesn't concern himself with such things.
"I'd much rather have this team go to a BCS bowl than ever sniff the NFL," Reed said. "People think I'm crazy when I say that, but I mean it. My mind's on working in business after school, not the NFL. I don't care about that. Let me play for a winning team and I'll be happy."
If Chad Reed doesn't make it in the NFL — or as a businessman — he can always fall back on auctioneering.
That's right, auctioneering.
Reed gave a sampling of his quick-talking abilities the other day, and if you didn't know any better, you would have sworn you were at an auction house.
"It's pretty easy when you get the hang of it," Reed said after vocalizing his skills. "You just have to throw in filler words to make it sound like you're talking the whole time."
Easy for him to say. He's the son of an auctioneer, dad Dale.
Mr. Reed is the voice of Westmoreland County when it comes to bidding extravaganzas. He travels far and wide to purchase merchandise, then sells it at various locations. Or, he is asked to call an auction for a third party.
"It was pretty neat, actually, growing up around that," Reed said. "He'd bring home all these items from estates and I'd have a field day. I had 50-some baseball bats because of him."
Asked if he could potentially follow in dad's footsteps and become an auctioneer, Reed didn't think so.
"It's not for me," he said. "I want to sell homes, property, or maybe medical supplies after school."
If nothing else, Reed will know what to shout after completing a sale: SO-O-OLD!