Greg Reid is officially a Valdosta State Blazer.
The former Lowndes Viking and Florida State football standout participated in his first practice with his new team Tuesday afternoon on the practice fields outside the VSU Athletic Fieldhouse.
“It is a great pleasure to be part of this team,” Reid told the Times. “To come back to Valdosta, I know the atmosphere around here is real hot. It is all about football here, and that is the kind of program I wanted to come to. I am glad to be here.”
Wearing just a helmet and shorts — he must undergo the mandated NCAA acclimation period — Reid was unable to do much of the drills with the Blazers, who practiced in shells. Still, Reid was seen standing on the sideline discussing every defensive play with graduate assistant defensive backs coach Doug Belk, a former high school teammate of Reid’s at Lowndes.
“It was his first day out here, so he couldn’t do much,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “Everybody else had pads on. He was very limited in things he could do, as far as 11-on-11. But just by watching him run around, he obviously has a lot of skill and he is a great athlete. He is exactly what I remember him being at Lowndes and unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him play a lot at Florida State because we’re busy at the same time.
“But what I remember of him at Lowndes and the little bit I saw at Florida State, he was every bit of what he is built up to be. He is a very hard worker.”
Tuesday’s participation in practice was his first with the Blazers, but Reid was introduced to the team Sunday night and he stood on the sidelines throughout the entire practice Monday night.
So far, Reid says the team has been welcoming.
“Everyone is talking to me, just like I thought,” Reid said. “I didn’t know too many people in (Division) II schools, maybe one or two people, but just being here, I knew what the atmosphere was and I had people talking to me about it a lot. It is everything I expected.”
With his participation in Tuesday’s practice, Reid will be eligible to participate in VSU’s first preseason scrimmage on Saturday morning.
“We’ll put him in there,” Dean said. “A lot of it will be how well he picks things up, being so far behind. But he is pretty sharp at picking things up. We don’t do a lot of things different than Florida State, defensively. So I think the transition from there to here is pretty easy. It is just terminology that he has to pick up.”
After being dismissed from Florida State nearly two weeks ago, Reid said he is fortunate to be given a second chance at playing the sport he loves.
“It means a lot,” Reid said. “Football is everything to me. So it is great to get a second chance, and I am going to make sure I live up to it.”
A projected late second or third round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft if he had declared following his junior season, Reid opted to return to Florida State for his senior season. He was then dismissed from the Seminoles’ team and was left looking for a new place to play in 2012. Despite the way the events played out, Reid said he doesn’t hold any grudges and he is just fortunate to be playing football.
“I am playing football, that is the main thing,” Reid said. “Right now, I am satisfied about that. I did everything I could for Florida State, and that is in the past. And now I am looking forward to this year with my new team.”
Since news that Reid was headed to Valdosta State broke Monday afternoon, the move has been heavily debated and somewhat scrutinized throughout the community and nation. One of Reid’s two arrests came in Lowndes County and many believe Reid should have moved away from the hometown distractions for his senior season.
The two-time Region 1-AAAAA Player of the Year sees it otherwise.
“I don’t really have anything to say,” Reid said. “I am going to have doubters wherever I go — I’m pretty sure I had doubters at Florida State, too. It is whatever to me. I am here to play football and to please my teammates and to win a championship.”
While some have scrutinized the move, some have embraced the addition to the eighth-ranked team in Division II, and the attention has brought even more interest to the team.
“He brings a lot of excitement,” Dean said. “A lot of folks around town are talking about that, and are looking forward to seeing him play. We are too.”
While Reid picked his hometown university, he admitted Tuesday that he was approached by West Georgia and West Alabama, both Gulf South Conference rivals of the Blazers, and Miles College about playing for those institutions this season.
“I didn’t know too many people, and just by staying in Valdosta so long I knew the atmosphere,” said Reid of his decision.
Referred to as ‘G5’ (his Twitter name is GregReid5), Reid will not wear the number that so many fans were accustomed to seeing him wear with the Seminoles. Reid has ditched the No. 5, allowing backup quarterback Kaleb Nobles to continue wearing it, and has moved back to the No. 24, the number he wore during his days with the Lowndes Vikings.
“It is important,” said Reid of changing numbers. “It is just a number, but personality wise, it is always about heart. I carried the G5 thing as long as I could, but I’m going to leave that in Tally. I am going to try and be a little more mature and just play ball, not for the fame but the heart.”
Ultimately, Reid said he wants to help the Blazers win a national championship this season. When asked what it would mean for him to win a championship with VSU and watch his former Florida State teammates win the BCS National Championship, Reid said that “would be a blessing.”
Regardless of what happens at Florida State, Reid said his main focus is helping the Blazers win their third national championship in eight seasons and their first since 2007.
“I am just feeding off these guys and I want to bring a national championship back here,” Reid said. “That was my expectation at Florida State — was to win a national championship. That is what I want to do here, too."
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