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April 25. 2012 11:00PM

Nashua's Kendall Reyes a secret no more


 

Kendall Reyes has done everything he can to make his dream of being drafted into the National Football League a reality. Now all that's left is to enjoy the moment.

The Nashua native and defensive tackle from the University of Connecticut will be with friends and family today for the start of the NFL draft. He said he would watch the draft on television, waiting for a team to call to tell him he was picked. Maybe it will be today during the first round or Friday when the second and third rounds are scheduled.

It would be an upset and a disappointment if he lasts until Saturday, when the final four rounds are selected.

Don't expect that.

Reyes, 22, has blossomed into an intriguing prospect on the defensive line, catching the eye of NFL scouts with his size (6-foot-4, almost 300 pounds) and athleticism (he also played wide receiver in high school). His experience at UConn playing in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense is also a plus.

He made the most of chances to showcase himself with good performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. Hank Hughes, assistant head coach and defensive line coach at UConn, raved about his makeup.

“He's got athletic ability, he's a smart guy and he's a worker,” Hughes said. “You probably need all three to do what he's done. He's done what he's supposed to do.”

Now all Reyes can do is wait.

“I want to watch (the draft),” Reyes said. “I met a lot of these guys and I'm curious to see where they go. It might drive me crazy.”

Reyes is on Twitter (@Kendall_Reyes), but he says he won't be tweeting too much today. A couple of shout outs to friends who get drafted and something when he gets picked. That's about it.

“I don't use it that often,” he said.

Reyes wants to get on with his professional life. Where that will be is still not clear.

Some draft prognosticators think the New England Patriots will use one of their picks at the end of the first round to take Reyes. San Francisco, Denver and the New York Giants are also seen as possibilities if he goes in the first round. Reyes said he's not stressing about it.

“I'm definitely enjoying it,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to get it over with.”

Reyes, a red-shirt senior, graduated in December with a degree in communications. He used the winter to work out, spending three months at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., taking part in the combine, going back to UConn for a month to prepare for the school's pro day and, for the last month or so, driving 35 minutes every day to Woburn, Mass., to train at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning.

Hughes said that is typical of Reyes.

“He's a guy who knows how to handle himself,” Hughes said. “He was a two-time captain; you don't see that. That's the respect he has from his peers.”

UConn has had one player drafted in the first round — running back Don Brown by Indianapolis — and three others taken in the second (including Darius Butler by the Patriots), all in 2009. UConn was just emerging as a program worthy of such attention back then. Now, Hughes said Reyes is not taking anyone by surprise.

“The scouts have seen all his tape,” Hughes said. “I think they have a lot of respect for him.”

Hughes said the UConn coaches thought Reyes had the chance to be special coming out of Nashua North.

“He was a good player then,” Hughes said. “He was just a well-kept secret.”

If Reyes gets his named called today, he will be the second player from Nashua drafted in the first round. Greg Landry was taken by the Detroit Lions in the first round in 1968 and went on to play professionally for 17 years.

For now, Reyes just wants to play one day.

“That,” he said, “would be a dream come true.”

Email Jim Fennell at jfennell@unionleader.com.


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