Kevin Gray's Gray Matter: Nashua's Reyes is all charged up
Nashua North graduate Kendall Reyes, drafted in the second round by the San Diego Chargers, has been tuning up for his first NFL minicamp with high schoolers from his alma mater. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder, who leaves for San Diego today, has made quite the impact inside the weight room or on the track for agility drills.
He's the guy able to bench press 225 pounds an incredible 36 times. Reyes, a four-year starter at Connecticut, handed out boxes of cleats and blew away his fellow Titans with displays of raw power and speed. At the NFL combine in February, Reyes, a defensive lineman, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.95 seconds and posted a vertical leap of 34 1/2 inches.
His desire and work ethic could not be measured.
'I'm proud of him. Every kid has that dream of becoming a pro football player of baseball or whatever, but to see someone work so hard and actually realize that dream, it's amazing,' Nashua North head football coach Jason Robie said.
On his first visit to Nashua North, Reyes spent about 45 minutes talking defensive schemes with Robie.
'It's just cool having him here. I don't know any other word. He comes and gets his work done, and, obviously, guys gravitate to him - and not just because he's a pro football player. He's a personable guy and has been giving good advice on workouts and entire defensive schemes.'
Nashua North senior captains Michael Lynch and Deric Wagner probably won't reach the NFL but they've followed a path similar to Reyes in high school. They've both played defensive end and pushed their limits during the NHIAA track and field season - as did No. 91 for the Chargers. Lynch won state titles in disc and shotput at this year's Meet of Champions.
Wagner, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, watched in awe as Reyes loaded up the bench press bar with six 45-pound plates. That's 315 pounds, including the 45-pound bar.
'That's just mind blowing. At the same time, it's inspiring to see somebody like that from my school. It makes us feel like we have the potential to do the same,' Wagner said. 'We all look up to him so much. He could be training somewhere else on his own, but he comes back to his own school to work out with us younger guys. You see how hard he works. He didn't just waltz his way into the NFL.'
Reyes may have been blessed with amazing athletic ability, but he separated himself from the pack through relentless hard work. He set records in the weight room at UConn and made game-changing tackles for the Huskies, racking up 31 1/2 tackles for a loss during his career.
The Chargers realized he is no ordinary rookie. In May, he signed a four-year contract worth a reported $4.1 million. It pays to work harder than everyone else, especially when nobody is watching.
'I've been fortunate to always have people pushing me. In high school, my older brother (Justin) never let me take the easy way out. We'd do sprints in the middle of the night,' said Reyes, who'll wear No. 91 for the Chargers and see plenty of action at defensive end. 'In college, I looked up to the older guys and just tried to learn as much as I could. It's going to be the same thing in the NFL.'
As a lean and lanky Titan, Reyes also played running back and caught some passes at wide receiver. He set a goal to succeed in college and never looked much farther ahead than UConn. There's a lesson there. It's OK to dream big, but don't lose sight of the path directly in front of you.
'It's cool seeing these guys (at North) committed to being the best because that's what it's all about,' Reyes said. 'When I went to college, I just wanted to play and do everything I could to get better. You can have that ultimate goal down the road, but you're never going to obtain it if you don't set small goals for yourself. Honestly, that's the only way I can become successful in anything I do.'
Robie has been examining the Chargers preseason and regular season schedule, trying to figure out which game he can attend this season.
'My wife and I have been talking about it. Definitely at some point we'll be watching him play,' Robie said. 'If the Chargers play the Patriots (in the playoffs), we'll be rooting for him to sack Tom Brady.'
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Kevin Gray's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @graymatter11.