Since signing to play football at Indiana University, Jake Reed has been through a coaching change, two position switches and a career-threatening illness.
The Columbus North graduate now is battling for playing time for what he hopes will be an improved Hoosiers squad.
“We’re excited,” said Reed, who will be a sophomore. “We’re looking forward to the first game.”
That Reed will be healthy enough to play in the Sept. 1 season-opener against Indiana State is a testament to how far he has come in the past two months. Midway through spring practice, he came down with mononucleosis and lost about 25 pounds.
“I was in bad shape,” he said. “I couldn’t eat or do anything. It’s gotten better since then. It was kind of depressing because I was stuck at this low weight, but I was able to work out again. I was able to keep working, and it was able to kick back in.”
The Reed file
Name: Jake Reed
Size: 6-foot-4, 270 pounds
High school: Columbus North
College: Indiana University
Position: Offensive tackle
Notable: Also competed in basketball and track at North and was sectional champion in the discus; was an academic all-state selection and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award winner
Reed is back up to 270 pounds, about 10 pounds heavier than before his illness. He’s been working out with the team four days a week for the past month and is back at full strength.
“We all do the same workouts as last year; but this year, we we’re able to do twice as many hills and twice as many ramps,” said Reed, who wants to become a fitness specialist. “Physically, we’re a much different team.
“I was a little worried coming in because I had been sick, and I didn’t know if I would get back in the full swing of things,” he added. “The first week was rough, but we’re all on at this point.”
After playing tight end and defensive end for North, Reed committed to former IU coach Bill Lynch with the hope of playing defensive end. But when a couple of tight ends went down with injury last preseason, he switched to tight end for new coach Kevin Wilson.
Although Reed saw only a couple of plays a game at tight end as a true freshman, he played in 11 of the 12 games on the field-goal and kickoff return teams.
“Even though I didn’t see the field that much, I wasn’t too disappointed,” Reed said. “I got to know everybody and got to know the new coaching staff. It made me excited for (this) year, just knowing how dedicated everybody is.”
Just before spring practice and the illness, Reed was moved to offensive tackle.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “They asked me if I would play O-line, and I said I’ll do whatever they wanted me to do. So that’s what I’m doing right now.”
Reed is one of two Columbus natives on the IU squad, and both are coming off injury or illness. Duwyce Wilson, a redshirt junior wide receiver from Columbus East, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while making a touchdown catch last fall.
“Both players were limited during spring practice,” IU coach Kevin Wilson said. “Duwyce is coming off knee surgery and is now fully cleared for participation, and Jake missed three weeks with mono.
“Both guys need great summers to make up for lost time. Their summers will be critical as they prepare for the fall, and their roles will be determined by performance and production.”
The Hoosiers will be trying to atone for a disappointing 2011 season. They went 1-11 and were winless in the Big Ten.
Teams need six wins to earn consideration for a bowl berth.
“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Reed said. “We’re planning to look at it one game at a time. I think maybe last year, we maybe underestimated some of our nonconference opponents and didn’t come out as sharp as we needed to.
“I think everybody kind of has a chip on their shoulder about last year,” he added. “There were a couple of games that we were in and just didn’t get it done. We realized there were a lot of changes that needed to be made. It just showed us how much harder we needed to work and how much more dedicated we needed to be.”