Reeves Confident New Style of Play Will Help Him
By Patrick Murphy
Ccornerback Armani Reeves didn’t amaze anyone with his number of tackles or multiple interceptions In the annual Scarlet and Gray game. What he did was show the steady skill fans have been waiting to see from the one-time four star recruit.
Reeves had the opportunity to showcase that ability last season but was ultimately unsuccessful in limited playing time. In a Buckeye defense that drastically underperformed, Reeves was the victim of much criticism when he saw the field in substitute of Bradley Roby.
The junior isn’t looking back at what he’s done; he’s looking forward to what is coming in 2014.
“It’s a new year, fresh start,” Reeves said this spring. “I can’t worry about what happened last year or even my freshman year. I’ve got to worry about what’s going on right now and in the future, working on my game and helping the young guys work on their game too.”
Photo by Dan Harker
What is going on is a change in defensive philosophy with the addition of Co-Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash. The OSU secondary is playing a more aggressive style, something Reeves believe will make the unit better.
“We’re pressing a little bit more and it’s fun, we all like that,” he said. “Be a bit more aggressive and you can play with your strengths when you’re playing press.
“I’m bigger than a lot of the guys so I can use my hands and my body more. A lot of the guys, they got good feet and they’re faster. They can really bump and grind and just run with them down the field. It’s really available to play with your strengths and it makes it fun.”
Reeves’ size isn’t a natural gift but one he’s worked for in the weight room, a place he says he loves to spend his time.
“I’m a workout freak so I like working out and getting big and getting strong,” he said. “If I can just use that to my advantage. And I’m quick. If I use those two things to my advantage, I’ll be alright.”
In the Spring Game, fans got the first opportunity to see the more aggressive defense in person and specifically the stronger, leaner Reeves. All the cornerbacks consistently lined up in press coverage and were able to dictate the game more at the line of scrimmage using their tools.
According to Reeves, this style of play is a defensive back’s dream.
“You see it every Sunday, all you see is Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson. They’re sitting there pressed up, doing their thing,” the junior said of two of the NFL’s top corners.
“That’s what you dream of, just pressing up like, ‘you’re not catching the ball on me.’ If you have that mentality every play, great things are going to happen.”
Reeves is well aware that no one on this Ohio State roster is on par with Sherman or Peterson, but when you are a Buckeye cornerback, the top is where you strive to be. Reeves feels he is ready to step on to the field in the new system and be successful.
“I feel ready. I feel confident,” he said. “I think that’s half the battle when you’re a corner. Just being confident, knowing that you can do the job. When I get out there, whether it be the Spring Game or the first game of the season, I’m gonna play with confidence and know that I can do this job. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Reeves is finally comfortable in his skin and in the system. Being a gym rat, the new scheme allows him to use his tools to the max and help return the defense to the Silver Bullets of old.
“Obviously everybody knows the pass defense last year, it had its ups and downs,” Reeves said.
“This year, like I said, we got a fresh start and we’re just going to come out hungry. Only thing it can do is motivate you to play better than you did last year. Trust me, there’s not going down, you can only go up from there. You keep on playing hungry, you keep on playing hard, we’ll get there. It’s a process and we just put a lot of new things in, but we’re going to get there. I’m not worried about it at all. As long as we play hard right now, that’s all we can ask for.”