April 12, 2011

What's next for graduating OL, Seth Reed?

Seth Reed is moving on, though it seems like yesterday he was just moving in.

After a year at the U.S. Military Prep School and four years at West Point, the senior will finally be leaving the football field for field artillery. "It's one of those things where you'd love to stick around, but I'm ready to move on,'' said Reed, who started at guard the past two seasons. "I'll graduate and then get some much-needed time off.''

He'll receive the maximum 60 days before reporting to Fort Sill, Okla., where he will start BOLC (Basic Officer Leadership Course). Following seven months of training he'll then move on to Fort Hood in Texas, where he and kicker Matt Campbell will join up with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment in the Striker Brigade.

That's a long way from Dover High School in Central Pennsylvania.

"I remember the upperclassmen telling us it would go quickly,'' he said about his time at the academy. "I was like, 'No way;' especially when you're a Firsty. But honestly it's flown. Especially with football. The busier you are here the better you make it here.

"The fall semester is here and gone before you know it. You're so excited to get to the next game and look forward to it and then it's gone and you get to the next one. And the spring feels short,'' Reed said. "Thank God my time has really gone quickly, so I'm blessed that way.''

His initial decision to attend Army didn't exactly carry his mother's blessings.

"My concern then was my mother,'' Reed said. "I came from a single-parent family, and it's been that way since I can remember. At first I blew off the Army. I didn't want to upset her, but at the same time I knew I wanted to do something that would be different from everybody else.

"I wanted to distinguish myself, and one of the ways to do that was to come to West Point and graduate from West Point. It's hard enough, but doing it at a time of war, that would really show what type person you are. So I was more worried for my mother than for myself.''

His high school buddies were also against the decision, calling him crazy, telling him he'd never make it. That became even more motivation as he decided to challenge himself.

And then there was the grandfather factor. He served in the Army during the Korean War, and one day he really caught his grandson's attention. "He said in not so many words, 'Your country has done so much for you. What can you really say that you've really given back to it?' That's a heavy question,'' Reed said. "When he said that I started to think, 'Yeah, I haven't done anything to deserve the rights that I have that are provided for me by the constitution that many people have died over. I feel like I can do a good job being a leader, and I'd rather not waste that going to Northwest Pennsylvania State.' The idea of getting deployed, that was one of the things I was willing to accept.''

His mother still was not. "It wasn't an easy decision, I'll tell you that,'' he said. "Especially when you have your mom balling and saying, 'You're not going! No way! I'm not gonna let you go!' It was really a family decision, and at the end of the day it was one I had to make.''

Any perspective he needs remains in his home town, where some of his long-time friends still live and work. They see the change in him, but maybe not as much as he sees in himself.

"In high school I was irresponsible,'' Reed said. "You look back and say, 'Wow, that was really dumb.' You don't have the respect for a lot of things you should and you just do dumb stuff. Some of my friends are stuck in that mode, and you're trying to tell them, 'No, that's just not cool anymore. You're not in high school anymore.'

"And they go, 'Oh, wow, Mr. Military,' blah-blah-blah. So there's definitely an aspect of discipline that got interjected into my life whether I liked it or not. So thank God for that, coming here and getting out of the bone-head high school days. If I went to a regular college,'' he said, "I'd probably still be stuck there.''

Instead, whether or not he extends his post-grad commitment, Reed will likely be a lawyer.

The career choice was the result of simply living next door to a lawyer, a close family friend who Reed spoke to and hung out with. "I was lucky,'' he said. "I knew what I wanted to do when I came to West Point. And now it's more of a passion. My little brother is getting ready to go to college and he has zero clue about what he wants to do.

"One of my criminal law professors talks about cases in the Bronx, and I don't know if I have the stomach to be a defense attorney. I think my calling is definitely on the other side, either prosecution or having a district attorney gig. I've always been more of one to put the bad guys away rather than help them stay out.

"That's the best part of the Army. It gives you so many opportunities with what you want to do. There's a program that after two years I can apply to law school and hopefully get accepted. It's pretty difficult program to get accepted into,'' Reed said. "I could spend three years in law school and then have a bunch of years to do the JAG core (Judge Advocate Generals).''

At least that's the plan.

Until then he will report to his assignments, learn his new job and use some of those football disciplines to help him along the way.

"There's a joke that the initials for field artillery are F.A. They say that stands for Football Alumni. That is part of the appeal of F.A.,'' Reed pointed out. "You'll be surrounded by your buddies for at least seven more months, and a lot of my good friends will be at Ford Hood, so I'm going to be with some of my best friends from the academy for (maybe) four years.

"One of those years you have to assume you'll be deployed. But there should be about a two-year window at Hood before I get reassigned. If I'm told to go over there that's what I'll do, because that's what my country asked me to do. I'm not going over there to be a war hero,'' he said. "I'm not going to be G.I. Joe. There are those kids at the Point who can't wait to get over there. That's all they talk about: 'I can't wait to get deployed and go Rambo over those Afghanistanies.' Those kids are here; there are all different types.''

Not all are athletes, of course, and not all of them are football players. They too are a different breed, one that for too long in Reed's stay didn't seem as if they would be winners.

That would change, and Reed realized it would in December of sophomore year. That's when Rich Ellerson was hired to coach the Black Knights. "That's when I realized we would be a bowl game-type team or at least a team to be reckoned with,'' he said. "I felt like we just needed a coach to come in and provide that leadership role, somebody we honestly believed we could follow. And he stepped in and did that.

"I thought the overtime win against Vanderbilt (2009) would be the crown jewel of my football career That bowl game,'' he said about December's win over SMU, "I don't think there is any sports moment I've ever been prouder of.''

It's right there to how he'll feel next month, when he becomes a graduate of West Point.

"I grew up at an accelerated rate, and you have no choice or you're out of here. It forces maturity on you when you're in charge of people, and who are looking up to you to decide what's going on. West Point,'' Reed said, "forces you to become a better you.''

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