Nov. 14, 2005
Running back. Receiver. Running back. Kickoff returner. Receiver. Tailback. Kickoff returner. Punt returner.
Those are the answers, in order, you get from senior Willie Reid when you ask him what positions he has played during his career at Florida State.
As a freshman, he arrived in Tallahassee as a running back but was moved to receiver before breaking his leg and missing the entire 2001 season. He played running back and earned playing time returning kickoffs during his redshirt freshman season.
The following season he moved back and forth from receiver to tailback while continuing to return kicks. Last season, he earned most of his playing time at receiver, continued to return kicks and was thrust into the role of returning punts. He nearly moved back to the running back position when the need for an experienced player at that position arose.
He has, during his Seminole career, gained yards from four different positions in a single game numerous times during his career.
The only question the coaching staff has ever heard from Reid has been, “how can I help this team win football games?”
“I came to Florida State to win football games and to help coach Bowden win a championship,” Reid said. “I’m a team guy that’s how I was brought up playing in high school. It’s all about team and what you can do to help the team win. Hopefully, I’ve been able to set an example for other players to do what is asked of you and be a team player.”
Reid has been just that, a team player, throughout his career at Florida State.
Among the most valuable Seminoles the last four years, he has scored both rushing and receiving touchdowns, holds the school record for punt return yards in a season and has played in three bowl games. He has played in 35 of the last 40 games and has become one of the most
reliable and consistent players on the team.
“The things that Willie has done for our team during his career, you can’t measure,” Seminole offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden said. “He is so skilled that he can play wherever we need him to and play that position well. He is also one of the most unselfish players I have ever been
around. There aren’t many players who would sacrifice personal gain for the good of the team like he has. He never complains and just takes care of business.”
It might have been easy for Reid to voice his displeasure at the constant position changes, but he has seen his career of change as a positive.
“I’m grateful the coaching staff has confidence in me and has helped me compete at this level,” Reid said. “I am very happy that they have the confidence in me and have put me in the position to be successful during my career at Florida State. I am thankful that the coaches have asked me to play a lot of positions. It has allowed me to become a well-rounded player. Moving around the field has been a blessing.”
Reid has also helped the Seminoles find success during his career. Reid scored a key touchdown against Wake Forest in 2004 to help Florida State rally from a 14-3 deficit in a 20-17 win over the Deacons. He scored three touchdowns as a sophomore and scored his first career touchdown in the Seminoles’ victory over Virginia during his freshman season. Reid became Florida State’s all-time single-season leader in punt return yardage and led the ACC with 522 yards on 38
returns last season. That total allowed him to rank third nationally in punt return yardage. The previous school record of 503 yards was held by Deion Sanders during the 1988 season.
The team player that he is, Reid hasn’t put much thought into setting a school record or surpassing one of the greatest players in school history in the record book.
“I never really thought about it like that,” Reid said. “I never really thought and said, `I broke Deion’s record.’ I was fortunate enough to break his record for yards, but I want to break the record for punts returned for a touchdown because that record will help us win football games. It’s nice to have the yards but I want to have the touchdowns to go along with them this year.”
Despite his name being in the Florida State record book and having already enjoyed a career most collegiate players only dream of, Reid has an amazing perspective on his career at Florida State. The social science major, who credits his mother and father as having the most influence
on him and helping him grow into the person he is today, will earn his degree in December and has his sights set on playing at the next level.
“Florida State has given me the opportunity and the chance to meet a lot of different people, to come out of a small town in Georgia and be able to experience many things that I would never have had the opportunity to experience if I hadn’t come here,” Reid said. “This university
gave me the chance to experience college life, to get a quality education and to see
other things that I would have never seen living in a small town.”
When his career is complete, Reid will be able to say that Florida State changed him as much as he was able to change Florida State.
By Chuck Walsh
FSU Sports Information