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Reid ‘eager’ after long wait at Penn State

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John Reid after making a tackle against Maryland in 2016. -- Getty

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When John Reid takes the field against Appalachian State, it will be the first time he's suited up in a game for Penn State since the Nittany Lions took on Southern California in a 52-49 loss in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

To say Reid is ready would be an understatement.

"I always want to play football. My love for the game, how eager I am to play, that's never changed even when I was hurt, I still wanted to play," Reid said Tuesday night after practice at the Lasch Complex.

Reid lost the entire 2017 season due to an injury sustained during spring practice and spent his time rehabbing. Now he's back and ready to make an impact.

"One of the biggest things I was able to do is the bad habits I may have had in my technique or things I didn't like, I had a whole year and some change to change those things," Reid said. "That's really big and sometimes it's really hard when you're dead in the middle of it and you're having to do it every day, but I was really able to focus in on fixing those small things I wanted to fix."

Sitting out has given Reid a fresh outlook that is apparent to the coaching staff.

"I do think when sometimes you go through injuries like that, I think it puts things in perspective as well," James Franklin said. "You have to overcome adversity and those types of things so I think he's probably grown more than a normal year because of the adversity he's had to overcome."

The Nittany Lions aren't just getting the return of an experienced cornerback when Reid returns to the field,. They're also getting a guy who's garnered the respect of his teammates since stepping onto campus.

Reid has appeared in 26 career games, making three interceptions and 64 tackles.

"John's been one of the most respected guys in our program, really from his freshman year and he continues to build on it," Franklin said.

As far as how his game has improved, Reid focused on the aforementioned bad habits and cleaned them up in a way that will make Penn State fans happy when they see his No. 29 jersey on the field.

"I feel like I'm a lot more explosive just getting in and out of by breaks, they're a lot more crisp," Reid said. "I feel faster. My feet are definitely quicker, I feel really good."

More from Franklin:

• On state of the team: "I feel really good about where we're at. I mean, obviously, we gotta get into the game specific plans for Appalachian State, as you know one of the greatest upsets in college football history. You look at how they played Georgia, how they played a number of opponents like this. We're about to flip the switch here and start focusing on them, but I think we've had a really good camp."

• On solving question marks: "I think we've solved some questions at the kicker position. I think we've solved some questions at safety. I think we've solved some questions at defensive tackle and linebacker. You still never until you get in there in Beaver Stadium and play a game and with us in college football not having pre-season games, it's all based on practice. So, we'll see, I think you guys know we're going to be dependent on a decent amount of young players. That's always challenging."

 On tight end Danny Dalton: "Really, Dalton's had a great camp. Dalton from the beginning of the camp to the end has really come in with a blue collar mentality and really keeps chipping away at it. I don't know if we're ready to kind of ready to decide that right now. (Nick) Bowers has done some really good things. (Jonathan) Holland has done some really good things. Dalton has probably had the most consistent camp. And then (Pat) Freiermuth is a guy, who at this point, looks like he's going to factor in."

 On ball security: "I would hope that that's a part and function of how we practice and how we emphasize it all the time. I've been doing this for 23 years, and I was never a part of a program anywhere that took a five minute segment and did ball security every single day. Coaches will emphasize it in their individual or they may do it once or twice a week, but we do it every single day. I kinda look at that as a credit of how we do it and how we emphasize it and we need to continue to play like that. We need to  protect the ball on offense and create turnovers on defense."

 On quarterback Trace McSorley: "Whenever you have a quarterback that's won as many games as he has, and comes out with the same mentality every single day and leadership and those types of things and preparation, I think everybody feeds off that. I think, you know, last year, the Iowa game, Trace McSorley steps into the huddle, I think there's instant respect and there's instant confidence and instant credibility. Really, he's been that way for a long time and every year it continues to build and grow. We got a lot of guys who need to step up on both offense and defense with the amount of personnel changes we've had, but whenever you have that guy on your team and specifically your offense, I think you've got a shot."

From defensive line coach Sean Spencer:

• On redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Antonio Shelton: "He mastered what he was good at and what I mean by that is sometimes kids get out of their sort because they're trying to do things they're not capable of doing. I'm not saying he's not capable of doing it, but he's mastered the great things he can do. He's very strong up the middle. He bench presses 450, he can squat the entire Lasch Building. So when you have a kid like that, if he can master those one or two tools, he's got a chance to be special."

 On Kevin Givens: "I think his versatility is key. So depending on who you play, when you play those bigger teams the Wisconsin, the Iowa when you have to have a more stout defensive end to hold the point because those guys do a great job of running the football, then you would consider putting Givens out there. With both Shareef (Miller) and Yetur (Gross-Matos) being 260 pounds and Shane Simmons weighing 255, you might not have to do that. Givens is a guy who can play nose guard, three technique, defensive end. He's the most versatile guy I've coached since Anthony Zettel."

From running back Miles Sanders:

• On offensive line improvement: "We have four offensive linemen coming back, so that helps a lot. They've seen a lot of defenses, they've been going against our defense. Our defense is the toughest defense we go against every practice. I see them being the strong point of our offense this year. I've seen them grow since the spring to the summer to now. It's been a really good camp for them"

• On freshman Ricky Slade and adjusting to the college game: "The speed of the game and just when you come to college you have to block.  You gotta know how to block, how to see the defense, read the boundary safety, read the linebackers and where they're coming from. In high school, we had to block, but it wasn't blocking and reading. You have to really read the defense, the blocker can change the way the defense flows."

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