Class of 2014 First Look: C.J. Reavis

The safety position in Bud Foster's defense has a storied history, filled with unique athletes that could both cover man-to-man and play close to the line of scrimmage in run support. Since the graduation of Willie Pile, the Hokies have had a series of heady safeties that were solid in coverage, but didn't produce the interceptions and turnovers that some of the great Hokie safeties of the 90's had a reputation for producing. Even Kam Chancellor, who dominated the Super Bowl with his run support, did not generate many interceptions while a Hokie. The current pairing of Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner had a tremendous season serving as a safety net for the Hokies young corners. Jarrett also excelled in run support, while Bonner functioned well as a deep centerfield player and a serviceable cover man on the opponents third and fourth receivers. Both have operated essentially without competition as a series of recruiting failures left Torrian Gray with only inexperienced freshmen to spell both players. While Jarrett likely has an NFL future at free safety, the safety group as a whole lacks elite playmaking ability.

Enter C.J. Reavis. According to HokieSports.com, Reavis is a 6-0, 190 pound safety prospect from Thomas Dale High School (although he looks bigger on film). He was long targeted by Shane Beamer as a top recruiting priority. Following his verbal commitment last spring, Reavis quickly endeared himself to the Virginia Tech fan base by actively recruiting other Hokie targets via social media. Reavis is vocal, confident, and he loves Virginia Tech. With these traits being readily apparent, I was eager to review his film.

I had several surprises in store for me, no bigger of which was the revelation that Reavis' high school film features him playing extensively at the field side corner position (for those new to the site or new to the Hokie terminology, the "field" side is the wide side of the field). Normally, a guy playing out of position in high school always worries me, as it adds some time to re-learn key fundamentals at the new position. In base defense, the Hokies rover plays more man coverage (to the boundary side and usually against tight ends or running backs) while the free safety plays more of a free hitter, center field zone. Against spread teams and in the nickel, the free safety has the added responsibility of switching between being a deep safety and playing the third most dangerous receiver in a trips alignment to the field side.

It is really difficult to determine which position Reavis will start out at, because he has the skill set to excel at either the free safety position or rover. Part of that speculation is due to the presence of Holland Fisher. Fisher played close to the line of scrimmage as a weak side inside linebacker in high school and is terrific in run support, so you would think he would be a no brainer to play the eighth man in the box like Jarrett. However, he moved to free safety at Fork Union. C.J.'s ability to play man coverage may set him up for the rover spot, while Fisher plays a free ranging head hunter at free safety.

Reavis impresses on film in man coverage. He has a natural understanding of how different receivers can threaten his cushion, so he effectively presses players who he can be physical with at the line, and then can back off guys who can beat press coverage and read the quarterback.

Here's Reavis in press coverage.

00:00:00–00:00:10

Reavis is in press alignment, and at the snap he steps to the inside to take away the quick slant crossing his face. The receiver takes an outside release, and Reavis recovers nicely to turn and run with him. He gives the receiver with a slight hand check with his right hand, turns his head, and finds the football. He then is athletic enough to make a play on the football and deflect it at the highest point. Antone Exum was a tremendous coverage safety, but he always seemed to struggle to get his hips turned and find the football. Reavis has a natural feel for it. Sometime he gets a little too physical in coverage, so he will need to learn how to be more subtle with contact down field in coverage. Based on this film, I am not sure that C.J. would have the elite top-end speed to turn and run with a real burner at receiver, but playing rover or free safety means he would rarely face that kind of matchup. It is strange that so many of these plays feature quarterbacks trying to beat Reavis with 50/50 jump balls. It plays right into his strengths.

He is also very physical in run support. He loves to throw the high shoulder kill shot, but also has examples of solid form tackling. He likes contact and he isn't shy from delivering heavy shots.

00:00:10–00:00:21

The following is a play that really impresses me with how explosive he is from a dead standstill. Watching a couple of tackles he throws in run support look very similar to some of Kam Chancellor's hits in the Super Bowl.

00:00:21–00:00:42

When Reavis hits guys, they stop forward progress. As we saw with Chancellor, intimidating heavy contact early in the Super Bowl made the Bronco slot receivers and running backs hesitant to come into his space. I counted several plays where Knowshon Moreno tip-toed into good holes and ended up with a minimal gain; and Demaryius Thomas went backwards on several screens where he had easy first downs and made them much tougher plays. The Hokie safeties have been solid, but it has been a long time since Gray has had that intimidator in the secondary.

I love the physical play, but, one of the risks run with that style of tackling is sacrificing dependability for impact. Several of C.J.'s highlights are hard hits, but he doesn't even attempt to wrap his arms. The Hokies play a high risk defensive system, and a rover or free safety doesn't have much help if they miss. Also, Reavis has a tendency to sit back and wait on the ball carrier to run to him. You don't see him flying up from the safety spot to hammer guys. That is a bunch of extra yards he is letting those ball carriers acquire. He has to close and wrap his arms, but in his defense, as a corner he has to stay engaged with the receiver before selling out in run support.

Finally, Reavis is very vocal and demonstrative on the field. Gray's system of communication requires both the safety and the rover to understand defensive calls and checks, and then get that information to the corners. Reavis definitely will not have trouble getting his point across, and he plays with a confidence like he is the biggest cat in the jungle. You need that, especially in Foster's system where so much pressure is put on safeties.

Bonner and Jarrett are firmly entrenched for one more year at safety, but a versatile player like Reavis gives Gray the flexibility to move Bonner back to nickel corner if a third corner doesn't emerge in the fall. Reavis has terrific ball skills and physicality that make him a unique asset compared to the other options currently on the roster at safety, and his ability to cover means that he can play man coverage if forced to play as a freshman while he learns about all the different robber and zone concepts that the Hokies utilize. C.J. Reavis has been a primary target for a long time, and it is easy to see why.

C.J. Reavis' full highlights are available on his Hudl.

Contact the editor about this post anytime by phone: (703) 646-1931 or mail: 3057 Nutley St Suite 633, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.

Comments

I have noticed that he never wraps his arms around the ball carrier, like you said. Still, I'm really excited to get this guy to campus! #DBU

VT 2016
Go Hokies

I know that second highlight wasn't a form tackle, but I still love how he changed directions, avoided the block from the wide receiver, and kept the running back out of the end zone despite his forward momentum at that point. Also, nice to see him not leading with his head on big hits like that.

This kid looks and sounds like a beast I cant wait to see 2016 Reavis, Fisher, Fuller, and Facyson with all that experience oh it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

H_O_K_I_E_S-HOKIES!

Proud Member Of The Key Play Community Since January 2012.

If Fuller and Facyson stay that long....

10 years in a row...

I think they'll stay through the 2016 season, because ya know, Battle at Bristol. I mean, I'm sure they want the chance to play in such a big game, and won't pass it up.

Facyson will be here 4 years. Wants to become a heart surgeon. He'll at least need to get his degree first. Hoping Fuller will stay, but by then the next Fuller should be ready to take his place anyway, right?

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

Unfortunately we have exhausted our Fuller supply for the next 18 or so years.

Fuller is a fairly common name....we need to find another family named Fuller and get to work.

VHokie

Fuller is a fairly common name...

Be careful what you wish for. We must be patient and wait for the true genetic bounty of the one and only Fuller lineage.

stoked

“I hope that they’re not going to have big eyes and pee down their legs so to speak,” -- Bud Foster

This secondary is going to be monstrous for the next couple of years...and I love it.

QBs will be thinking "please, I'll play anyone EXCEPT Virginia Tech"

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

It's like our own 'Legion of Boom'

"And it is caught, it is caught for a touchdown"

Perhaps "The Origin of BOOM"?

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

THIS ^^^^

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Origin Of Boom = OOB
I feel like we are missing something...

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

Blacksburg, Origin Of Boom!!!

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

There it is! I couldn't think of a good B. Well done.

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

So, the acronym is...B.O.O.B.

I'm already going to Hell. At this point it's pretty much "Go big or go home."

In military parlance, OOB means Order Of Battle so, it works in many ways.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

First you chop the wood,

Then you lay the wood.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

That hit is so satisfying every time you see it...

This is perfect, though I suppose if keeping with the evolution of these comments you should say:

Then you unleash the BOOBS.

Which just shows while funny on a sophomoric level that acronym is impractical in use.

lol...your right, its sophomoric.....

So, we use it!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Yeah but, I'd like to see the type of cheer it creates, a la 3rd down key shaking.

Danny caught that ball.

Friends don't let 5 star friends commit to UVA.

I have inside info. - Whit

I thought the crowd would just roar BOOOOOOOB whenever the secondary makes a big play. But then again, we would all lose our voices in the first quarter. The above is a better solution.

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

Mmhm. Whelp...

[Get's up. Changes pants.]

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

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Fosterball

I blame the hot Hokie chicks for doing it to me. That is all.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

This just may be the GREATEST section of a thread in the history of the internet....EVER.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

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Fosterball

I'm really excited to see him play on Worsham Field. I like how he looks to understand the game well at this stage in his career. Glad you pointed out that he's a good communicator too, should be a huge plus on the field. And i would think that our fine coaches will ingrain in him the wrapping up part, In Bud we trust my friends.

I always love watching a player who plays to his strengths. It is great to have a corner who can make spectacular plays. But the best players prepare themselves so they are in a position to make hard plays look easy. Reavis always seems to be in a good position to make a play on the football, and finding the football in man coverage has not been a strength of our safeties for a long time.

Viva El Guapo

I just hope his play on the field is as good as his play on Social Media...

VT 12'... but once you're a Hokie, you're always a Hokie..

I think very likely his impact will be felt mainly on special teams this season and I'm hoping he's taught to wrap up on tackles. Would love to see a special teams player bring the heat like Alonzo Tweedy did.

I'm hoping Donovan Riley establishes himself as the third corner. Desmond Frye and Chuck Clark can hopefully perform well enough at FS/Rover to have the coaching staff feel comfortable.

My thinking is that Holland Fisher could be really useful at whip if RVD isn't all the way back from injuries.

Wouild really like to see Holland used like Seattle used Kam this year. He's that physical of a dude to change games IMO.

Most of the time a player can't come in and do well at Whip right away, its a position that has a lot of nuances and it can take a while to learn it, usually 3-4 years. Back in early 2011 Kyle Tucker (Andy Bitter's predecessor) wrote:

From 2004 to 2009, six straight seasons, Virginia Tech finished the season ranked no worse than 12th nationally in total defense. Then came 2010. The Hokies plummeted to 52nd.

So what happened? Well, for the first time in seven years, Tech had a young guy who wasnt quite ready to play at the all-important whip linebacker spot. Jeron Gouveia-Winslow was a redshirt sophomore whod played only 35 snaps and recorded three tackles in his college career before taking over at whip last season.

Even though Fisher could be really good as a Whip, and would have physical tools that JGW never had, I think it would probably take longer for him to see the field there. As a DB he would probably contribute as a True Freshman and have a good shot at a starting spot as a Sophomore. As a Whip, he would likely be headed for an unnecessary redshirt, since I think RVD is expected to be ready to go in the Spring.

Edit: Just double checked, at the time of the surgery, he he was expected to be a limited participant in spring, and full participant in Fall.

ReavisParty - Everyone is invited until the lights go out.

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

This is awesome, but in his defense TKP is by far the best place for free information on all Hokie Everything. Great quality articles like this one and good comments between the community here. Glad I found this place.

"Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?"
-Bender

So you mean to tell me that TSL isn't the best!?!?!?!?!

heh

CJ, Welcome to B.O.O.B! You'll be one of the next set of talented graduates of the Secret Order of B.O.O.B

You know... this is ominous!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I have personally watched Reavis play several games in high school. He is a beast of a defender. He will fit into the #DBU just fine!

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death....... I assure you, it's MUCH more serious than that" ...Bill Shankly

French, can you or anyone else go into a little more depth about the "recruiting failures"? Did we just miss out on recruits or was something else happening?

There were no failures in recruiting this year. Just kids who made choices. Focus on the players that chose to come and play for this university and not the people who we're thinking about coming here and made the decision to go elsewhere. We got a great class of players coming in this year so lets get excited about how they can make an impact on our football team

Thanks but I was trying to learn more about the reasons we were so short in the secondary that French alluded to in the intro to his column.

I can give you 3 reasons:
Farrow - Transfer
Aromire - Transfer
Manning - Transfer

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

This was a real bummer, I really liked that kid on the field. He is a true Hokie in every sense.

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

Welcome to TKP.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Several talented guys (Manning, Dew, Aromire and others washing out, Cole getting hurt) basically meant that since Exum and Whitley were at safety, there has been no competition for the starters.

Viva El Guapo

Thanks for the response. Guys washing is one thing, guess I was more worried about the program failing to fill its needs. Love these recruiting profiles by the way. It makes me feel much more connected to the team.

Aromire I think was a big one. I remember hearing he was supposed to be the next big thing at safety and even enrolled early, next thing you know he was getting arrested and leaving the program.
Manning just didn't have his heart in Blacksburg. He did some community service for us so I talked to him pretty regularly and it seemed like the coaches would tell him he was in the plans but then his play time would get more and more reduced.

The list of washouts is a problem. The skills level to play safety here + the brainpower must be tough to find. Hope Reavis is "The ONE". If he's as good as advertised, how good is Blanding and is he ranked so much higher because of the 757 factor.

Troubled by is in ability to not trash talk after each play. We already seem to lack discipline at key moments in games. Frank and Bud need to nip this in the bud early.

I disagree. A good DBU is fast, talented, physical, and very good at the psychological game of getting in the opponent's head. You want your opponent to be as distracted as possible, one way or the other.

Then there's guys like DeAngelo Hall or Ronyell Whitaker, who would talk trash even if they were getting destroyed.

Ronyell Whitaker drove me crazy with his trash talk. He'd get beat on a 15 yard out, trash talk on the opponent's sideline, and then get a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

Trash talk is only good if you back it up...and don't get burned. Trash talk is ok when you are 11-1...not 7-6 or 8-5.

VHokie

I'm troubled by your inability to correctly spell the word "inability".

or "his"

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

I am troubled by your ability to spell inability...and all the downvotes over seemingly benign posts of personal opinion.
Yes, he mangled inability...but we aren't the spelling police, are we?

VHokie

Some one here is...

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I'm actually going through the spelling police academy right now, please don't judge. It's been my dream :(

I'm troubled that people still don't get that this isn't reddit. You don't downvote just because you disagree. This isn't a flame post nor a personal attack. If you disagree with his opinion, comment. Does Joe need to post the guidelines at the top of every thread?

I admit, I am always uncomfortable with a Hokie jawing at the other team (D. Hall, Jimmy Williams). It is part of the game and sports psychology, though. If CFB and Bud want to squelch it, they will.

I'm already going to Hell. At this point it's pretty much "Go big or go home."

It makes me uncomfortable too to a degree. I don't really think it fits in too well with the lunchpail mentality. But I guess it's also personal preference too. I used to love blowing somebody up and then walking away like it wasn't no thing.

Bad guys never look at explosions.

Best example ever was Barry Sanders. He'd shake and weave through an entire defense to the end zone then hand off the ball to the ref and go back to the sidelines without a word.

I'm already going to Hell. At this point it's pretty much "Go big or go home."

"... act like you've been there before" is, I believe, the phrase.

Precisely.

I'm already going to Hell. At this point it's pretty much "Go big or go home."

What troubles me is why people get so butthurt over downvotes. Is your turkey leg count a measurement of importance? To me it just shows who is most active and been here the longest I haven't read the guidelines for downvoting but its there for a reason and using to to disagree rather than starting a big argument that clogs the thread seems more logical but that's just me.

With enough downvotes, you lose your ability to comment. That's the problem. Turkey legs are a measure of football savvy and wisdom... The more turkey legs, the more sage you typically are. Take a look at wisec4g and vtguitarman, most of their turkey legs come from quality, not quantity, of posts. I think the point is that when you disagree, you should state why you disagree and not hide behind the anonymity of a downvote.

Downvotes carry the connotation that what you've said is offensive or inappropriate for this forum as stated in the community guidelines. Disagreements do not equal downvotes, or they shouldn't. That's why people get upset when random downvotes show up. They're being used incorrectly to show that someone disagrees, but on TKP if you disagree you post why you disagree, you don't downvote.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

Not to me. The number of downvotes I get = The number of idiots who read my post

and HOAT crushes it out of the park...

VTCC '86 Delta Derelicts, Hokie in Peru

I down vote when someone's opinion is poorly researched, conceived or lacks a quantifiable basis in reality....as well as an offensive post. It's okay to gave opinions for which I disagree, it's not okay to regurgitate some stupid shit. We gotta protect the quality of this forum or it will devolve like the rest of them.

>11k Turkey Legs!!! OMG!!

Pain is Temporary
Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever
Let's Go Hokies!!

I haven't read the guidelines for downvoting

See, now there's the problem. If you disagree, and use a downvote to do so, all you're doing is anonymously saying "YOU'RE WRONG!" and running away. We like debate here, as long as it's civil and well-reasoned. We're good at that. Downvotes are for abuse, as stated in the Community Guidelines.

Although our d used to get pumped up when one of them made an awesome play or a big hit and now that has seemed to occur less and less. I used to love the swarming d that we had and everyone would be pumped up. I think it helps the defense and the crowd out. When you get a bit hit or big play on d and the guy just gets up and walks away it seems as if the d lacks intensity at times and just happened to get lucky on that play.

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

Trash talk is fine if he doesn't take it to a Richard Sherman level. But if he's able to play like Sherman then talk talk talk away CJ.

STOP CRYING ABOUT DOWNVOTES

Kendall Fuller - future Thorpe winner