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Joe Reed drafted into NFL

Former Randolph-Henry High School multi-sport star Joe Reed became a professional football player Saturday, April 25, when the Los Angeles Chargers selected him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

“It means a lot, really just putting in the work for all these years, playing football for this amount of time and always having a goal of playing some sport at a professional level,” Reed said. “So I decided in high school that I wanted that sport to be football, and that’s really when I started working towards making the NFL. So just to see that the hard work paid off and the sacrifices that my parents made meant a lot.”

His parents, Carlton and Tonya Reed, were with him in Charlottesville Saturday when he received the call from the Chargers letting him know the team was using the fifth pick of the fifth round and the 151st pick overall in the seven-round draft to select him.

Tonya Reed said having her son join the ranks of the best football players in the world meant a whole lot.

“It meant that the goal that he had been working for all these years finally had come to fruition,” she said.

Carlton Reed reflected on all of the time and energy invested that led to Saturday’s big moment.

“It’s been a lot of early mornings and late nights,” he said. “(I’m) just very proud of his achievement.”

Reed, who graduated from Randolph-Henry in 2016, completed a successful college football career at the NCAA Division I-level as a kick returner and wide receiver for the University of Virginia (U.Va.) in 2019.

The Cavaliers reported Saturday that Reed was the first wide receiver drafted out of U.Va. since 2006, when Marques Hagans was taken by the then-St. Louis Rams in the fifth round.

Reed’s mother highlighted some of the most important traits that have helped Joe achieve his current level of success.

“He’s definitely goal-driven, and when he sets his mind to something, he does everything that he needs to do to accomplish that,” she said. “He’s also very disciplined. He prioritizes things that need to get done to help him reach his goal (and) doesn’t let a lot of outside distractions deter him. And he’s also very humble, meaning that he doesn’t let the notoriety that he sometimes has get in his head and distract him from what he needs to do.”

In his high school football career, Reed rushed for more than 2,200 yards, passed for 900 yards and scored more than 30 touchdowns. In a major highlight that came during his senior season with the Statesmen in 2015, he rushed for 392 yards in a single game.

Randolph-Henry Director of Athletics and Assistant Principal Christopher Holt echoed Tonya Reed’s description of her son when he praised Joe Reed for having a humble confidence, a team-first mindset and a coachability that the Chargers will now benefit from.

“They’re getting an exceptional human being, No. 1,” Holt said. “And No. 2, they’re getting an exceptional football player.”

Reed made an impact for the Cavaliers all four years of his college career, finishing with a stellar senior season in 2019 in which he was the only player in the nation with 600-plus receiving yards (679) and 600-plus kick return yards (796), a U.Va. press release noted. He was also the only player in the country with 24 or fewer kick returns to go with 700- plus kick return yards.

The release stated Reed is just the 10th player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history with 3,000-plus career kick return yards. He is the only player in FBS history with at least 2,700-plus career kick return yards with a career kick return average of 28-plus yards.

Reed won the Jet Award in 2019 as the nation’s top kick returner after leading the nation with a 33.2-yard kick return average, officials highlighted in the release. He earned first-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America as a kick returner. Reed was also a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. He also earned membership to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Society.

The versatile Reed recorded 77 receptions and 679 receiving yards to go with seven touchdowns in 2019.

U.Va. officials made clear the historic imprint Reed left on the school’s football program.

He leaves U.Va. No. 1 in program history with 3,042 career kick return yards and five kick return touchdowns. His 77 receptions in 2019 ranked fourth on the Cavaliers’ all-time single-season ledger. Reed leaves U.Va. tied for ninth all-time with 129 receptions.

The Chargers have let Reed know they are interested in employing him in a variety of different ways on the field.

“Talking to the coaches, they’re going to use me at running back, they’re going to use me at receiver, kick return,” he said. “They want me to return punts and really (play) the rest of the special teams, so it’ll be the same as when I was in high school, when I was in college — just being all over the field and being an athlete.”

The Chargers finished 26th in kick return average and 28th in punt return average last year during a season in which they finished last in the AFC West with a 5-11 record. The Chargers start the new season with a new stadium. SoFi Stadium will open in July and will be home for both the Chargers and Los Angeles Rams.