STARKVILLE • When Jaylon Reed trotted onto the field in last year’s opener against Stephen F. Austin, his heart was racing.
Reed was making his collegiate debut as a true freshman and the nerves were nearly more than he could take.
“That first game I got in, I looked up at the stands and said ‘Lord, Jesus,’” Reed said. “It was loud and there were some big, bright lights. My first instinct was that I couldn’t get put on ESPN.”
However, the young cornerback soon settled in and adjusted to his new surroundings. Reed finished that game with three tackles and went on to appear in two more contests in 2018 while still maintaining his redshirt status.
This year, much more is being asked out of the former Olive Branch star. Reed is adding depth in the secondary and is expected to contribute on special teams as well.
“I’ve had a whole year to prepare so now it’s time to step up,” Reed said. “There not any pressure really because those redshirt games prepared me.”
Reed used his redshirt year to work on his all-around game. The 6-footer increased his size – up from 170 to 192 pounds – and honed his skills as a cornerback.
“On film, I look completely different,” Reed said. “I look more explosive and look better with my technique also but I’m still working to get better.”
Reed credits his improvements from working with one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the position, Terrell Buckley. Buckley has been the Bulldogs’ cornerbacks coach since 2016 and is also a Thorpe Award and Super Bowl winner and had 50 interceptions during a 13-year NFL career.
“He’s somebody that’s been there and done that,” Reed said. “We can’t really say ‘Coach you don’t know how to do that’ because he’s done it all. We’ll be in meetings and he stays on us about taking notes because he still does that. He wants us to learn more than just our position. He wants us to learn the whole entire defense so it’ll slow the game down for us.”
It is Buckley that will ultimately decide how much Reed and the other corners see the field this fall.
“Coach Buckley always says ‘make me put you in.’” Reed said.
Reed was initially committed to MSU when Dan Mullen was the coach and decommitted just days after Mullen departed for Florida. The three-star prospect entertained his other 18 offers before ultimately choosing the Bulldogs again on national signing day.
“If I’m going to ball, I wanted to ball for my state,” Reed said.
Reed isn’t the only college defensive back in his household. His younger brother, Jerrick II, is a sophomore safety at New Mexico State after playing at Northwest Community College last season.