Kareem Reid - A Continuous Learner

Nov. 4, 2006

By Nathan Blythe

In 2001, Kareem Reid toured the UCF campus on an unofficial visit. He saw the football team's old and out-dated facilities, including its undersized weight room and unmanicured practice fields.

Reid decided to attend Kentucky, but in the spring of 2004, he transferred to UCF. Now, Reid has the opportunity to utilize new facilities that are transforming the program including the Nicholson Fieldhouse, two practice fields on the north side of campus and the new Wayne Densch Sports Center.

The Nicholson Fieldhouse, a regulation indoor practice facility and the first of its kind in Florida, gives Reid and the Golden Knights the ability to practice every day even in inclement weather. The new Wayne Densch Sports Center is a state-of-the-art facility that consists of team meeting rooms, locker rooms and an 11,200-square foot strength and conditioning facility.

A step outside these facilities, Reid can see the formation of a new campus athletic complex with the construction of Bright House Stadium and the Convocation Center. These two facilities will finish off the athletic complex on the north side of campus and create an enjoyable game day atmosphere for fans.

"I remember coming to UCF during my senior year on an unofficial visit and they did not have any of these facilities," said Reid. "When I came back, transferring down, I saw all the good things that are going on and it is exciting."

Reid, a 6-foot-4, defensive end from Coral Springs, Fla., transferred to UCF so that he could again play in his home state. The opportunity to play with the support of his friends and family allows him to be comfortable on the field.

"I came back pretty much so that I can play in front of my family and friends on a regular basis. I just wanted to get back home," said Reid. "It gives me a support group that is close to me."

The competition between the Southeastern Conference and Conference USA appears to be different, but according to Reid, the coaches all teach the same ideas. One striking difference is the game day atmosphere, where SEC teams have the prestige and history that many of the C-USA teams lack.

"As far as coaching, it is the same. A football coach is a football coach," said Reid. "The SEC is definitely a great environment to play in every week, in front of 80,000 fans."

Coming from Kentucky, a school that is not known for its football program, Reid found success at UCF. Last year, the Golden Knights finished the season as C-USA East Division champions and hosted the inaugural conference title game. The success led to an invitation to play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

"At Kentucky, we were not at the top, but I like being in Conference USA and being one of the better teams in this conference," said Reid. "Going to a bowl game with UCF and helping to be a part of that was a good experience for me."

Prior to playing at Kentucky, Reid was a standout athlete at Coral Springs High School. He competed in football, basketball and track allowing Reid to work on his athletic career year round. Playing basketball assisted him on the gridiron by helping him improve his quickness and agility.

"Basketball in high school helps you on the football field as far as footwork, being quick on your feet and coordination and being an overall better athlete," said Reid. "The more sports you play, the more well rounded you will be in everything."

Reid sat out his first year at Kentucky to get acquainted with the rigors of being a Division I athlete. Reid has become familiar with and understands the importance of the transition to the college level academically and athletically.

"Redshirting was good for me at Kentucky," said Reid. "I think that it is a big transition when you come from high school to college. That was just a learning process."

The learning process that Reid has been a part of is a completely different experience than most Division I athletes. He had the opportunity to watch and learn from the sidelines for two years. He had a chance to learn the game plans on defense for the Golden Knights, where Reid transitioned to playing in a 3-4 alignment.

"Every coach has different techniques and I learned how to do things at UCF from Kentucky, with them playing in a 3-4 scheme. It is a little different mechanics from a 4-3," said Reid. "Basically, I worked on my game during that year."

Reid has shown that he has the durability to play two positions, defensive tackle and end. Against Rice on Oct. 21, he started at defensive tackle, providing some leadership on the line. Defensive line coach Peter McCarty believes that Reid offers guidance that is needed on the defensive side of the ball.

"He has been in another program and knows what everybody expects. He has been able to provide some stability," said McCarty. "He is a kid that is knowledgeable of both positions, defensive tackle and end. At the same time, he has also provided guidance to some of the younger kids."

The Golden Knights defense includes only two seniors, Reid and defensive end Chris Welsh. Travis Timmons and Torrell Johnson are two freshmen defensive tackles that have played during the year. Reid has assisted in the development of these younger players athletically, academically and socially.

"It is not just only in football, but with life. I talk to the younger guys like Torrell Johnson and Antonio Wallace," said Reid. "If things are hard, I encourage them to push through and tell them how to cope with those different things."

Reid helps Wallace, a sophomore defensive end, who is making the transition from linebacker. Wallace is given the encouragement to succeed in his new position, where he will probably take over for Reid next year.

Reid is not one of the vocal leaders for the Golden Knights, but he uses his communication skills to talk to players. Motivation can be completely different for some players. Reid has realized this and uses people skills to relate to teammates.

"I am vocal when I feel that there is a need to be. I have people skills, so I know how to relate to players and know what they need. Not everybody needs the same thing to get motivated," said Reid "One person might need somebody to yell at them, while another player might react better to somebody talking to them."

In May, Reid graduated with a degree in criminal justice. Now he is working towards a graduate degree along with teammates Dan Veenstra and Cedric Gagne-Marcoux. Reid wants to get more experience in school so that he can eventually work in the federal government.

"It was basically the only thing I was interested in, in school and college at least. I did not want to have a regular nine to five job, said Reid. "I wanted something different that is exciting. Law enforcement and criminal justice, those careers and opportunities are out there for me."

Reid has assisted in laying the foundation for a program that is definitely on the rise. The new facilities will help to attract future players and future teams will be inspired through the new stadium and atmosphere that will be created on campus during game days. Reid's only regret is that he will not have the opportunity to enjoy the new facilities for a longer period of time, especially playing in Bright House Stadium next year.