‘From the mud’: Seahawks draft safety Jerrick Reed from K.J. Wright’s Mississippi hometown

·5 min read
Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal

Jerrick Reed was born in the same Mississippi town as K.J. Wright.

Their families remain tight. Reed and Wright do football camps together in Olive Branch, Mississippi, each June.

“He has an alumni game in June that I plan on coming back to — if I don’t have practice,” Reed said.

“But, yeah, me and K.J. Wright all have close connections.”

The Seahawks can only hope Reed plays half as well as Seattle’s former Pro Bowl and Super Bowl-winning linebacker.

The Seahawks selected Reed, a safety who played at the University of New Mexico, in the sixth round with the 198th overall pick of the NFL draft Saturday.

“It means the world, honestly,” Reed said on the telephone from Olive Branch Saturday afternoon, “because the Seattle Seahawks are one of the only teams in the NFL that gave me a chance, that took me on a (pre-draft) visit.

“And then the whole organization of competing and the 12th Man. That’s what I live on, competing, proving people wrong and just winning games.”

He’s 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall and 196 pounds. That height has prompted coaches and football people to tell Reed for most of his playing life he was too short, too small, to make it where he just did.

Reed said he’s coming to Seattle to disprove the belief “that short DBs are at a disadvantage. For short guys, showing them that we are players, too. That we can compete with any-sized guys.

“And also, just a kid from Mississippi, man, that people look down on. They call it that I’m from the mud,” he said. “And putting off my city, putting off the smaller conferences, and showing them that no matter if you go first round or sixth round just go out there, compete and do your job at the end of the day.”

Reed said Seahawks coaches have told him to compete for spots at safety and at the nickel, slot-defensive back positions.

Seattle has Jamal Adams coming off a serious torn quadriceps tendon in September and Pro Bowl veteran Quandre Diggs returning for 2023 at safety. The team also signed safety and former New York Giants safety Julian Love last month to play multiple roles. Friday, the Seahawks made Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon the fifth pick in this draft. Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider said Witherspoon can play nickel cornerback inside, too.

In other words, Reed better learn special teams with the Seahawks.

He said he played on every special-teams unit at New Mexico “from day one” getting there as a freshman, through his senior year last season.

“Wherever they put me at, I played every position at college football.”

New Mexico’s defense with Reed in it played five defensive backs as its base set, three safeties with two cornerbacks “at all times,” Reed said.

Reed got to play slot nickel back, down near the line of scrimmage like a strong safety, and deep in the field’s center as a free safety.

“So literally all three safeties had to be skillful to play every position,” he said.

The Seahawks similarly interchange the roles of their safeties depending on down, distance, formation and matchups with receivers.

Reed is yet another player who is coming to Seattle with a chip on his shoulder. Carroll and Schneider have drafted so many such chips this weekend they should they should be serving dip, too.

Aside from people dissing on his height, Reed is motivated by how he got from Mississippi to New Mexico to play top-division college football, albeit not in a “power” conference where Seattle’s first eight choices in this draft came from.

“To keep it a short story for you guys, basically I was under-recruited out of high school,” Reed said. “My stats were the very best out of any DB coming out, but just because of my size I was looked down upon. I had to go to JUCO. I played one season at JUCO. New Mexico took a chance on me. I rolled with them. I committed and I spent my four years out there winning all-conferences and winning games for them, and putting out for the state.”

What has Wright, now retired, told his fellow Olive Branch guy about the Seahawks?

“He just told me how much he loves it, man. He told me it’s a great organization, a great city, a great environment,” Reed said.

“And he says the fans, he said the fans are crazy!

“I can’t wait to get out there and experience it, so I can tell my stories about it, as well.”

Reed is the first New Mexico player drafted since the Miami Dolphins selected placekicker Jason Sanders late in the 2018 draft. He’s the first Lobos defensive player drafted since defensive back DeAndre Wright went to the New York Giants in 2010, also in the sixth round.

“This is a guy that has a plan for his career,” New Mexico safeties coach David Howes told the Albu He has a plan for graduating college. He has a plan for preparation. He has a plan in the weight room — hence why he was pound-for-pound probably one of the, if not the, strongest kids on the team,” New Mexico safeties coach David Howes told the Albuquerque Journal.

“He’s one of those people.”