Instant Analysis -- The consensus top-ranked defensive end in the state, Reed timed his announcement for April 23 to honor his deceased mother on her birthday, choosing to become the 20th commit in the 2011 class for the Texas Longhorns, a decision that Orangeblood's Jason Suchomel reports was made some time ago. Over the last month, Reed ended his visits with trips to Austin and College Station for the school's respective spring games, experiences following several other trips to both campuses.
His experience at the first Texas Junior Day stood out to Reed, who said that the Longhorns helped create separation when he received his Texas offer in person from Mack Brown. Like the great majority of attendees at that event, Reed noted his comfort with the coaching staff, the quality education at Texas, and the facilities as other major causes of separation.
Reed narrowed his finalists essentially down the A&M and Texas from a offer list of more than 20 schools that included Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, and Oklahoma, a distant third. The Aggies made up some ground late in the recruiting process with the appeal of early playing time and some rumors about his father preferring the Aggies, perhaps for that reason.
It may perhaps be simplistic to narrow his decision down to a willingness to face competition versus a desire to essentially be handed a starting spot upon commitment, but a major part of the decision-making process for Reed had to have been how much confidence he had in himself to earn playing time over other exceptional athletes.
The appeal of being a Longhorn and willingness to face that competition overweighed everything else. Oh yeah, and Reed may also have noticed the recruiting momentum Texas has been building, particularly on defense, and told Jeff Howe that the ability to play for a national championship impacted his decision.
Even though the defensive end position at Texas has a great deal of depth at the moment, Reed fills a need as a high-upside strongside defensive end. Concerns about Reggie Wilson's height kept him from getting his fifth star from Rivals and may keep him from playing that position in college, despite early projections of him playing there opposite Jackson Jeffcoat. Greg Daniels is an excellent athlete as well, but Reed is more highly ranked at this point in the process and provides a stronger combination of versatility and upside that makes him a major get, no matter the relatively low level of need in this class.
The Longhorns have one other outstanding offer to a defensive end, Shreveport Evangel's Jermauria Rasco, but are likely done with recruiting at the position due to having no more than five spots left in the class and likely no more than three with needs still at running back and cornerback. Much like Texas has done with Marquis Anderson and Anthony Wallace, expect for the coaching staff to fall out of contact with Rasco.
Instant scouting report -- Reed is widely considered the best defensive end in the state because of his projectable frame and unique athleticism for his size that allows him to excel at defensive end, tight end, and on the basketball court for Cleveland. Last season, Reed had 11 sacks and 88 tackles, while dropping 20 and 10 on his opponents on the hardwood.
Currently tipping the scales at 6-6 and around 245 pounds, Reed still has plenty of room left on his frame, leading to speculation that although Texas A&M recruited him as an outside linebacker/stand-up pass rusher in the new Aggie defense, he could end up playing at an athletic 275-280 pounds. Reed could become an impact player at defensive end in a four-man line or five tech defensive end in the 3-4 or move inside to play a three tech in passing situations or permanently.
While Nathan Hughes has the ability to play the two inside positions, it's Reed's upside as an edge rusher that likely resulted in Texas evaluating Reed as a better prospect, though the LSU coaching staff apparently disagreed, seemingly a minority opinion.
Without seeing more film, it's difficult to say just how good Reed is off the edge -- his 11 sacks is not a monster number, but pure sack total don't tell the tale of how often he managed to pressure the quarterback and Reed likely faced double teams every week.
The normal statements about needing to work on shooting his hands better and using them more consistently and playing with better pad level all apply here as they do to most high school defensive ends not named Jackson Jeffcoat, but Reed has the raw physical tools with a quick, if not elite first step -- he is 6-6, 245 remember. He moves extremely well for his size and has some ability to change direction. His long arms will make it difficult for tackles to get into his body at the next level.
Overall, Reed's ability to play in college anywhere from 260-280 pounds, possibly more, and still be able to retain most, it not all of his athleticism makes him one of the top prospects in the state and gives him a great deal of upside due to his versatility and ability to play a number of positions. Cedric Reed is a multiple type of player who will play for a coach who loves to be multiple on defense. Mike Sherman wanted him to be a cornerstone of the rebuilt Wrecking Crew, but will instead add to the insane number of weapons Muschamp will be able to deploy for the Legion of Boom.