In the highly publicized world of college recruiting, coaches and fans know all about the big-time prospects. But finding a so-called diamond in the rough can be a difficult and risky task.
WHO: Charleston Southern (3-0) at Norfolk State (0-2)
WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Norfolk, Va.
Charleston Southern struck it rich when the football coaches stumbled on to a player that could end up rewriting the program’s record books by the time he’s done.
Junior running back Christian Reyes, who grew up in the small town of Rogue River, Ore., signed with CSU last December.
Reyes played for the College of Siskiyous (Weed, Calif.) last season. He rushed for 1,958 yards on 317 carries and drew interest from several four-year colleges that were closer to home. However, he chose Charleston Southern because of the school’s emphasis on faith-based education.
Going to college on the other side of the country is one thing for a single person. But, the 21-year old Reyes is married with a 1-year old son, and making the decision to move his new family to the East Coast was something different entirely.
“I had options closer to home, but visiting out here and knowing what this school stood for, I knew this would be the place for me and my family to grow in our faith,” said Reyes, a 5-10, 218-pounder. “I figured we could experience the East Coast and knowing that it’s temporary, it’s something we wanted to try. We know home is on the other side, but this is home for now.”
Reyes has made an immediate impact as the Bucs’ top running back. Through three games, Reyes has gained 253 yards and is averaging five yards per carry. He rushed for 92 yards in the season opener against The Citadel and ran for 105 yards in last Saturday’s win at Campbell.
At his current pace of 84 yards per game, Reyes will shatter the CSU single-season rushing record, which is 774 yards. Only two backs have ever rushed for more than 700 yards in a single season at CSU.
Being a father and a husband, in addition to the busy life as a college student and football player, Reyes is under a little more pressure than his teammates.
“I guess I’m not a typical college student,” laughs Reyes. “For me, my family comes first and what I am doing right now in terms of getting my education is for my wife and my son. If it means giving up video games or hanging out with the guys to change diapers, so be it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell wasn’t sure how much of an impact Reyes would make on the offense during the spring. However, it became apparent early in August that Reyes could be a huge part of the offense.
“He runs hard inside and he just has a knack of finding a hole and getting positive yards,” said the coach.
Chadwell himself is a father of two and understands the demands on his own time as he leads a football program. The coach admires how his player handles life.
“He has been a blessing to this program,” Chadwell said. “He is a tremendous young man and is mature beyond his years. He’s all the way across the country with a wife and a child, but he is making it work. How many guys his age could do that?
“He’s a very good student and a focused young man. He does all of these things and he never misses anything we ask him to do. I think that’s why we all respect him so much, because we all know what he goes through just to get on the field and play the game he loves to play. And, on top of that, he’s a good football player.”