STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - When cornerback John Reid arrived in State College in the fall, he didn't expect to start in his first college game.

Speaking with the media for the first time, the St. Joseph's Prep graduate said Wednesday night that his support system prepared him for that challenge.

"The guys on the team were all very welcoming. They answered all my questions. I ask a lot of questions," Reid said. "I think my preparation, the people around me, the people in the building, allowed me to play a role like that."

The freshman's first college start did not only come in the opener. It also came in front of his hometown crowd inside a packed Lincoln Financial Field.

Penn State's matchup with Temple ended in a 27-10 loss for the Nittany Lions. But for Reid, the early experience proved invaluable.

Last week, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Reid entered spring practice as an established leader on defense. Coach James Franklin said that Reid would be one of few underclassmen on the team's leadership council.

Reid has noticed personal improvement in the last seven months.

"I've added weight. I've gotten faster. I think our strength program does a great job," Reid said. "Whenever I have any certain problem, anything I want to fix, anything I want to work on, they're able to connect it to the field and help me be able to develop certain things I want in my game."

"It's also very convenient when your weight room is five minutes from your dorm," he added.

Franklin, who has praised Reid's work ethic, said Wednesday that he was pleased with what he has seen from the defense in the first seven days of spring practice.

"Our back seven has looked really good and much more competitive than we've been on challenging routes and playing with a little bit more confidence," Franklin said.

Reid and the rest of the defense have had to get used to a new defensive coordinator. Fortunately for them, however, he's a familiar face: former linebackers coach Brent Pry.

As Pry adjusts to his new role, former Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks is also settling in as the Lions' new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

"I just love the energy both of them are bringing to practice," Reid said. "Both of them are guys that are going to be very personable. They're going to be talking to you. They're going to be getting you excited. When you make a mistake, they're goosing you up, like 'You can make that play.' Just the confidence that they both have in all of us and all of our defense, it's just amazing."