You may remember David Reed, a wide receiver and kickoff returner with the Baltimore Ravens who will play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday.
If you’ve been around southeastern Connecticut for a while, and you have at least a passing interest in high school football, your memories probably include Reed blazing his way to 20 touchdowns while leading New London to the 2005 CIAC Class S Title Game as a speedy receiver. The Whalers lost that game to Hyde of New Haven, 31-13, in part because Reed was suspended for an off-the-field incident.
Reed came to New London before his senior year from New Britain, where he was coached by city native Jack Cochran. When Cochran made the move to take over New London High School’s program, Reed made the move with him and lived with Tommie and Barbara Major while his mother remained in New Britain.
Cochran described Reed as a “self-made success story,” saying there were several times in his high school days where he could have given up but persevered instead. He said playing in the Super Bowl is a dream of every young football player.
“He’s come a long way,” said Cochran. "He’s had tremendous adversity in his life, overcame a lot of obstacles.”
Cochran, who is now a football consultant and social studies teacher at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, said Reed first came to New Britain after attending his freshman year at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol. He said Reed made the commitment to putting in time in the weight room to bulk up.
The move to New London paid off, as Reed spent two dominant years in junior college before transferring and starring at wide receiver for two years for the University of Utah. The Ravens chose him in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft, and Reed delivered, leading the league in kickoff-return average (29.3 yards) as a rookie.
In 2011, Reed was suspended for the season opener because of an incident in 2010 where police allegedly found marijuana in his home, but he came back to the Ravens and had a solid season.
This season, he was on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list before coming back late in the season and catching the first five passes of his career as well as handling kick-return duties. Reed played 13 games in 2010, 11 in 2011, and five in 2012.
In his NFL career, Reed has had 1,150 yards on kick returns and 16 tackles. His one touchdown with the Ravens came when he logged a franchise record of 103 yards on a return to score against the Houston Texans on Dec. 13, 2010.
Reed’s younger brother, Jordan, a junior tight end at the University of Florida who starred as the quarterback at New London, recently declared himself eligible for the NFL draft and is expected to be a mid-round pick.
Reed is on the Ravens’ injury report as “Questionable” for Sunday’s game because of a thigh injury.
Cochran said Reed should savor the “once in a lifetime opportunity” of going to the big game.
“Just enjoy the moment,” said Cochran. “Some guys in 20, 25 years never get to play it.”
Do you remember Reed’s magical season at New London High? Will you be rooting for or against the Ravens in the Super Bowl? Share your thoughts in the comments below.