GEISMAR, La. - Of all of the postseason all-star games available to the best high school senior football players, Geismar (La.) Dutchtown strong safety Eric Reid believes without a doubt he's playing in the right one after accepting an invitation Thursday to take part in the 10th Annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
"The Army means pride and dedication and honor and those are all things my parents told me are necessary in life," Reid said. "This means that all of my hard work and dedication has paid off and that I haven't been doing it for nothing."
Reid, an honors student and LSU commitment, proudly fashioned a replica No. 10 jersey - commemorating the game's 10th season - before a jammed-packed school cafeteria along with his high school coach Benny Saia and his parents, Eric Reid, Sr. and Sharon Guillory-Reid.
"He's the complete package," Saia said. "That's the thing that really stands out. I've had really good athletes that maybe weren't really good students and I've had really good students that maybe weren't really good athletes. He's a student, he's an athlete. He's a leader. He holds down a job. It's amazing how he can juggle his time and be successful at what he does."
Reid will be one of 90 players eventually chosen to play in the game Jan. 9 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Kickoff is set for noon CT and the game will be televised live by NBC.
"It's such a great show the Army puts on and I've watched it many times," Saia said. "It's the cream of the crop. There's no doubt about it."
It's those principals by which the game was founded that Saia believes makes Reid - a 6-foot-3, 228-pounder - the ideal candidate for the game.
Not only has Reid already determined his immediate future with a March 6 commitment to nearby LSU but the four-star prospect and No. 6-ranked safety prospect also carries a 4.41 grade point average (12th best in a class of 366) and will leave Dutchtown with four classes of college credit.
"This is definitely one of the accomplishments I wanted to reach while I was in high school and that's to play in the (U.S. Army) All-American game," Reid said. "It's pretty high on my list besides going to college and playing in the NFL."
That Dutchtown (7-3) finds itself in a position to host a first-round Class 5A state playoff game Friday against Lafayette-Comeaux is in large part to the role Reid took on this season, Saia said.
For the two previous years the Griffins, now in their eighth year of existence, were more identifiable because of the contributions of running sensations Eddie Lacy (now at Alabama) and Kelvin York (now at Texas Southern). With Lacy and York moving on to college and a small senior class of 14 returning, it was incumbent upon Reid to shine like never before and the results have helped produce another state playoff appearance for the Ascension Parish school which is located less than 30 minutes from LSU's campus.
Reid, who rehabbed a painful shoulder injury that required surgery in the offseason, has paced Dutchtown's defense with 51 tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage, along with three interceptions. "He was a person we needed to be a strong leader because of a lack of seniors and he did," Saia said. "The only thing wrong with him is he's not a twin. We'd love to play him on offense as well as defense."
His inclusion in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a process that began this summer with the initial paperwork that was required for all potential candidates to fill out. Then came a phone call about two to three weeks ago that Reid had patiently waited on informing that he would be a part of game's anniversary event.
"It was hard to contain my emotions," Reid said. "I think the game's definitely going to be fun. It's going to be a lot faster than what I'm used and will take some time to get acclimated. But this is exciting that all these people have been here supporting me since I've been playing football and I think they want me to go a long way."
Said Saia, "As far as the total package I can't imagine one much better."