Hokies Seek To Add Veteran Defensive End Justus Reed

The dominant edge rusher is looking for a home to make an impact in his final college football season

When Justus Reed announced he was entering the transfer portal, he expected it may take a couple days to start hearing from suitors. He had recently finished the best season of his career, but FCS Youngstown State does not provide gobs of exposure. Still, Reed thought he'd get some attention in the coming weeks and go from there.

Virginia Tech proved otherwise.

"When I tweeted that I was entering the portal, a few hours later the entire staff had followed me on Twitter," said Reed. "They started hitting me up and I had to tell them they had to wait because I wasn't officially in the portal just yet. But, once I was officially in the portal it was a wrap. I talked to just about everyone on staff. They were the first program to hit me up, actually."

It's obvious why the Hokies and other major Power 5 programs are trying to pluck Reed out of the transfer portal for his final year of eligibility. He finished last season with 42 total tackles, 12.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. He earned MVFC first team All-Conference honors for his stellar campaign.

His production was so great that the NFL Draft was a serious possibility.

"I contemplated [entering the Draft] and talked with my family and talked to people about where I would go," said Reed. "But, coming from FCS and having some injury troubles I projected as a late round pick or a free agent. I just decided that I'd be better off having two really good years back to back."

Those injury troubles have set Reed's career back two years. In fact, 2020 stands as his seventh year as a college player.

In 2014, Reed signed as an in-state recruit with Florida. The Clearwater product redshirted his first year with the Gators, then played in a reserve role his redshirt freshman season. As a redshirt sophomore, a knee injury derailed a chance to fight for a meaningful spot on Florida's ever crowded and talented defensive line depth chart.

Reed's Florida teammate, Alvin Bailey, transferred to Youngstown State the year prior, and helped the Penguins reach the FCS National Championship game.

"I knew I didn't want to sit out a year, so that's why I decided to go down," said Reed. "I also had already had a bit of a relationship with [then Youngstown State head] coach Bo [Pelini]."

Reed played in 7 games his first season at Youngstown State (2017) and racked up 5 sacks. During the season, he suffered a dislocated elbow that kept him out for around a month and a half. That offseason, the injury bug hit again as Reed tore his achilles in a simple jogging workout.

"I went to the NCAA to apply for a medical redshirt and they actually ended up giving me two years," said Reed.

Last fall accounted for one of the two aforementioned seasons of eligibility, and Tech is a possible destination for the second. Reed (No. 4) impacts the game as a disruptive presence in the backfield. He has a balanced arsenal of speed and power moves that keeps blockers guessing.

On the above 1st-and-10, he bent his body and completely beat the tight end. He collapsed the pocket even while being held. Two plays later, Reed showed off a really strong inside swim move to beat his blocker for the sack.

At 6'3" 270 lbs., he's a big body with a lot of twitch in the market for a new home.

"I'm a relationship type of guy," said Reed. "I don't want it to be just like I'm a free agent. I mean, essentially that's what I am because I'm only going to be there for six months. But, I want it to be more than that. I want to build relationships and make an impact."

Reed has an official visit to Tech on the books for April 11, an opportunity for both parties to build on their relationship face-to-face.

"In talking to the coaching staff it seems like they have a lot of really good guys up there. So, I'm just looking to go there and see it for myself and see what the school's like," said Reed.

A huge draw to Virginia Tech is the tag team d-line coach combo of Bill Teerlinck and Darryl Tapp.

"They embody exactly what I want to do," said Reed. "I want to have the career that they're at. Just people that are good at what they do and love what they do. Learning from someone who's been there before is huge."

In contrast to most high school recruits, fancy locker rooms and lounges won't highlight his trip.

"I'm not really worried about that stuff," said Reed. "I just want to do what's best for me football-wise and surround myself with good people."

"Coming to Youngstown, obviously it's an FCS school so we don't have all the bells and whistles like everybody else. We're blessed to have everything we have here on the FCS level. But obviously, you get a little more bells and whistles at the higher level."

Reed wants to decide on a school in April. The Hokies are a high choice, he also has an OV set with Florida State on April 18, and LSU is in the conversation too. Pelini recently took the defensive coordinator job in Baton Rouge.

In the meantime, Reed has been working out at Youngstown State.

"I'm not allowed to work out with the team and stuff like that," said Reed. "So, the strength staff has been really good with helping me whenever they can with my workouts. I'm still getting in all the work I can, so I'll be ready when I head somewhere in the summer."

Reed credits the Youngstown State program for being in his corner through the process.

"I got really lucky," said Reed. "I have a really good support system here. Everyone here's been really cool and understanding. I'm still talking to the coaching staff here in Youngstown. They just want what's best for me. They understand what I'm trying to do. I know if I did decide to stay here in Youngstown that they'd welcome me back with open arms. They just want what's best for me."

Should Reed opt for the Hokies, he's poised to be a veteran contributor among a d-line full of young guns. Adding another edge rusher would also give the staff the opportunity to redshirt another incoming freshman without sacrificing depth.

In a time where it seems like the transfer portal is Virginia Tech's arch nemesis, a well overdue reinforcement may be on his way to Blacksburg.

Comments

"They embody exactly what I want to do," said Reed. "I want to have the career that they're at. Just people that are good at what they do and love what they do. Learning from someone who's been there before is huge."

This gave me all kinds of warm and fuzzies until...

he also has an OV set with Florida State on April 18, and LSU is in the conversation too. Pelini recently took the defensive coordinator job in Baton Rouge.

It was fun while it lasted.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

What Tech may have going for them is playing time opportunity. I don't see him getting much action at LSU, and the defensive line staff at Tech is just miles better than what Florida State has right now.

Still, we've seen this movie before...time will tell.

You are right, I don't know the LSU depth chart, but former coach Pelini should know him and his game pretty well and is fresh off a national championship, plays in the darling conference and is right around the gulf from his home. FSU is a hot mess, but PT and proximity to family can be strong pulls if you only have 1 year left (Kerry Blackshear).

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

Yes, an SEC opportunity is always going to be enticing. And FSU puts more DE's in the pro's than VT by a large margin. Tough competition

I think we will find out if this "TNT" recruiting package has any heat to it yet. Genuinely curious how they are being received.

"What are you going to do, stab me? - Quote from Man Stabbed

Also of note, he seems like a great guy that's battled through a lot of adversity and kept his head on his shoulders. He's the type of guy I'd want on the team, especially with all the young DE's in the program.

He sounded like a good dude in his quotes. I remember Fuente saying they give grad transfers extra scrutiny/character reviews since they step into de facto leadership roles. And leadership aside, it takes some maturity to handle moving towns, working well with new teammates, and then leaving all within 6 months.

Thanks, Sam! When was the last time we had a productive 270 lb. DE?

I can't think of a productive DE that big. Jason Worilds got up to around 260 lbs. but that's all I can think of.

Chris Ellis is probably the most comparable at 6'4" 260. Orian Martin was also 6'2" 260.

Worilds was just a freak of nature. I don't think he gets enough recognition in tech football history.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I'm always surprised that Ellis didn't work out in the NFL. He had a rare combo of size and speed that would have made him a dangerous outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Marshall University student.
Virginia Tech fanatic.

The 2009 team doesn't get as much recognition in general. That was the best team we've had per SP+ since their time frame (2005-present).

Unfortunate that team had to play NC winners Bama, best GT under PJ with RMFW playing through the flu, and then bizarro UNC game (basically let GT beat us twice), which took a lot of the luster off that season. We still finished very strong with a physically imposing performance against Tenn in the CFA bowl, but it could have been so much better.

I think the reason Worilds personally gets forgotten somewhat is that he really played two seasons 2008, 2009, and then left early. Given how bad our pass rush/DL play was in 2010, I think maybe some people hold a little grudge (not me) against him for leaving early but who knows.

I think he did really well with Pitt in the NFL before retiring, so can't hate on a man that made the best of his opportunities.

I agree, and he was clearly someone who valued his health as he turned down a big contract opportunity to retire early from the NFL. I don't hold it against him, but based on how our fanbase (and many other fanbases) have reacted to guys leaving early, I am absolutely certain there are people out there who openly or silently hold him in lower regard.

His shoulder was pretty messed up. The fact that he was drafted in the second round with that injury speaks volumes about the type of player he was. His name is almost up there with the Bruce Smith, Cornell Brown, and Corey Moore tier. In my opinion, if he could have stayed healthy his whole career he'd be mentioned right up there with them a lot more.

Gobble Till You Wobble

I remember being surprised he declared, and a little worried it was going to be a Shyrone Stith type situation, seeing as he had only 4 or 5 sacks in 2009. But then he got drafted in the 2nd round and all was well.

a little worried it was going to be a Shyrone Stith type situation

Meaning an awesome dude who did awesome things? Cool, cool.

/s

Jason Adjepong was pretty good too...

No doubt. But he was no Jason Worilds.

James Gayle was 255 lbs in 2013
Corey Marshall was 257 lbs in 2013

Vinny Mihota 2017?

You have to think that with all the new NFL experience added to the coaching staff that we could really help this guy make it to the next level. Lord knows we could use his help on the d-line!

"Tyrod did it, Mikey!"

I would love to see Reed end up in orange & maroon!

For those who don't pay as much attention to FCS, the Missouri Valley Football Conference is the best FCS conference in the country. He's faced really good competition there, so I would expect him to heavily contribute, if not start, here at VT.

I thought CAA was?

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

Join us in the Key Players Club

They've been about on par the last few years, but the MVFC tends to get the nod from those who follow FCS closely.

"When I tweeted that I was entering the portal, a few hours later the entire staff had followed me on Twitter," said Reed. "They started hitting me up and I had to tell them they had to wait because I wasn't officially in the portal just yet. But, once I was officially in the portal it was a wrap. I talked to just about everyone on staff. They were the first program to hit me up, actually."

in before the NCAA program death penalty announcement

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

6'3 270 with twitch? YES PLEASE!

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Hope we can get him. I demand that he's in our starting lineup week 1 and has a multiple sack performance so the headlines can read Liberty and Justus.

Well the NCAA likes him by giving him two years, let's bring him on and maybe it will get us in their good graces for transfers.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

When was the last time a defense feared our defensive end(s)? No. Seriously. It's been a long while. Invoke the tapp offensive and get this guy on our team.

"I play real sports, not trying to be the best at exercising..." - KP

"I went to the NCAA to apply for a medical redshirt and they actually ended up giving me two years," said Reed.

This is the kind of luck that we need in Blacksburg.

So I looked for a list of schools that contacted this kid before he was officially in the portal. Turns out it's Justus.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

It would be nice to get some skilled leadership on the DL, especially at DE, to allow some depth to start to grow. Playing time and TNT seem to be a strong selling point but we'll see.

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

"I want to punch people from UVA right in the neck." - Colin Cowherd