UA FOOTBALL

Reed expected to take on role of vocal leader

2010-04-08T00:00:00Z Reed expected to take on role of vocal leaderRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 08, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The job of a defensive end is simple, at least to Brooks Reed.

"Just get sacks, tackles and tackles for loss. That's what we're all about," Reed said. "That and helping out the DBs."

There's one more thing, too.

Heading into his senior season, the Arizona Wildcats' defensive end is being asked to lead.

"It's going to be important for him to encourage guys, and maybe smack a guy on the butt who hasn't been on the field before," defensive ends coach Jeff Hammerschmidt said. "That's a good role for him."

The UA will need Reed more than ever starting this fall. As one of four returning starters on a new-look defense, the 6-foot-3-inch, 255-pound Reed will be asked to sack quarterbacks, make tackles and take pressure off the UA's young linebackers and defensive backs.

The leadership responsibilities come with the territory, even if they're a bit outside of Reed's comfort zone.

The former Sabino High School star has been famously quiet during his time as the UA's top pass rusher. In two-plus seasons on defense, Reed has never been penalized for roughing the passer or excessive celebration. He doesn't have a sack dance, save for a forearm bash with fellow end Ricky Elmore.

The player who ESPN's Ted Miller nicknamed "Thor, The God of Thunder," for his flowing blond hair has been slow to strike any of his teammates down with verbal lightning.

Quiet and thoughtful, Reed often conducts post-practice interviews with his helmet still on, his eyes hidden.

"I haven't been the most vocal guy. I'm more by example," he said. "I know me and the guys are going to have to step up. I'm going to have to tell guys when they mess up and when they do good.

"I can do that."

On the field, the 23-year-old Reed won't be asked to change a thing.

Reed had a team-high 9 1/2 sacks and earned All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore in 2008, his first full year as a rotation player.

Reed was expected to be the Wildcats' top pass-rusher again in 2009 - he was a preseason Hendricks Award and Lombardi Award nominee - but his body betrayed him. A high ankle sprain limited Reed to just eight starts, 23 tackles and two sacks. He returned in November, and was a key part of the Wildcats' Holiday Bowl run, but was clearly never 100 percent.

Reed called the season "frustrating."

"I missed a lot of important games, but I'm glad I came back at the end, recovered from that and contributed," he said.

Elmore starred in Reed's absence, amassing 44 tackles and a team-high 10 1/2 sacks.

Reed's late-season return seemed to motivate Elmore even more.

The Wildcats' two starting defensive ends competed for sacks and tackles in practice and jawed, albeit playfully, on the sidelines. Their friendly rivalry has continued into spring drills. Both are expected to start in Saturday's spring game at Arizona Stadium.

Don't be surprised if you see Reed do a little butt-smacking.

"Brooks is a quiet guy, but when he does say something, guys listen," Hammerschmidt said. "He's a real leader by example."

Up next

• What: Spring Game

• Where: Arizona Stadium

• When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

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