July 17, 2011

Two sports for offensive guard

Grimsley (Greensboro, N.C.) three-star prospect D.J. Reader has a request for colleges: He wants to play both football and baseball in college. That may not sound unusual, but consider who it is coming from.

Reader isn't a quarterback, wide receiver or defensive back. He's an offensive guard. A 6-foot-3, 306-pound offensive guard.

But he can pitch a baseball. He can hit one, too. And he's good at both.

Last season, Reader said he went 3-1 on the mound with a 1.5 ERA. He said his fastball has been clocked as high as 93 mph, but "I stay consistent around 88-90." At the plate, Reader hit .545 with three home runs and only four strikeouts.

Continuing to play baseball in college is important to him. Very important.

"I'm 100 percent going to do both so that is going to really impact my decision," Reader said.

Auburn is one school offering him the opportunity.

"A lot of colleges only give you a chance to play one, but to have somebody, especially the national champs, come out and say you can play both is really nice," said Reader.

Reader had the chance to talk to Auburn about playing both sports during an unofficial visit Sunday. It was his first visit to the Plains.

"The visit was really good. I had a lot of fun," he said. "I got to talk to the football and baseball coaches. It was really good to be able to talk to both."

Reader met with football head coach Gene Chizik, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and recruiter Tommy Thigpen. He also met with Auburn baseball coaches including head coach John Pawlowski.

"Having an opportunity to see both (sets of coaches) is really big," said Reader. "Coach Grimes is really nice. It was really nice to talk to him, and Coach Chizik, talking to him was really nice. Coach Chizik gave me a layout of what my years at Auburn would look like if I did play both.

"I talked to Coach Pawlowski. He is a really stand-up guy. He is working the program in the right way. The program is good. They went to the Super Regional two seasons ago and they hope to get back there soon. He has some good players on the way."

Following the visit, Reader said Auburn might have solidified itself among his top group of schools.

"Auburn is really up there. It's really nice," he said. "Anytime you get looked at by a national champion, you are going to be really excited. To see that they have a lot of interest in me coming off of that, and also the players they are getting, … to see they still have interest in me is really nice.

"Auburn is a really good school. It has a really good football program and a really good baseball program. I got to spend a lot of time there. I got to know Auburn a lot more than I did and it's really appealing. I liked it a lot. It's one of those places you want to take another visit to see if you like it as much as you did the first time."

Reader already has plans to return to Auburn for an official visit.

"It will probably be in the fall, but if not, then definitely during the winter," he said.

Reader, who claims 26 offers, hopes to narrow his choices to five before the end of the summer. Auburn, Maryland and East Carolina would likely make the cut, he said.

Reader plans to take all five of his official visits and wait until Signing Day to announce his decision.

"I'll probably wait it all the way out," he said. "I want to make sure that is the place I want to go."

Rivals.com ranks Reader the No. 14 offensive guard in the country and No. 17 overall recruit from North Carolina.




 

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