After missing last season due to a reportedly torn ACL in his left knee, John Reid is close to a full recovery, taking reps in practice and feeling better than he has in more than a year.
"If we were playing Saturday," coach James Franklin said, "he'd play."
Reid, who hails from Mount Laurel, suffered the season-ending injury last year in spring ball. As he was attempting to make an interception, he made a cut — a good cut, too, he added — but it didn't end well.
"I went to go break," the 5-10, 189-pound cornerback said Wednesday, "and as soon as I took the second step, I just felt my knee give out, so I kind of just knew. I met with the trainers, and the doctors told me what was going on after the MRI. I kind of knew."
But for the redshirt junior, returning to practice after a year feels similar to returning to practice after a long winter.
"Right now, I'm really strong," Reid said. "I feel super comfortable. I'm getting back into the game. I'm taking more and more reps every day."
The St. Joseph's Prep alum is even able to do things he wasn't able to before the injury. For instance, Reid takes reps jumping on an unstable ball and switching legs while catching the football to practice balancing.
"I've always been the type of person that I put myself in uncomfortable situations so if something ever arises like that in a game, whether it's a certain position or an awkward position that I'm in, I make sure to keep doing it until it becomes comfortable to me," Reid said. "That's never something I've shied away from."
When Reid last played in 2016, he started all 14 games and ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten in punt return average with 7.5 yards per return. This spring, he is surprised with how well he's been able to catch and return punts.
"I was surprised because I had to work so hard the previous year when I was playing at catching punts and it wasn't something that was natural coming in," he said, "but when I came out here when spring ball started and started catching, it came back easily, so I was surprised. I'm doing all the techniques right without thinking about it."
Just because he wasn't able to play last season, he didn't stop learning.
Reid, a data sciences major who has been known for having a high football IQ and watching countless hours of film, was in the headset during games and took note of the coaches' thought process and the reasons they called certain plays.
While he didn't actually step foot on the field last season, he still felt included. He traveled with the team and even imagined himself in certain situations while watching games.