It wasn’t all that long ago that Bernard Reedy was an athletic star in the Tampa Bay area.
He excelled in three sports at Lakewood High in St. Petersburg – crossing over opponents on the hardwood, speeding around oval tracks and, of course, tearing it up the gridiron. The latter skillset got him to the University of Toledo, where he landed on candidacy lists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in the nation and the Paul Hornung Award as the country’s most-versatile player in 2013.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Reedy finds himself back in Tampa Bay, but as a significantly less-heralded asset. Right now it’s all about trying to simply make the team and becoming a Buccaneer. Securing a roster spot eluded Reedy the past two seasons in Atlanta after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He was never able to escape the practice squad before getting released by the Falcons last September.
Possessing top-end speed but standing at only 5-foot-9, Reedy faces long odds to once again become an impact player on the football field, but the Bucs gave him his next shot by offering a futures contract in February. Since it didn’t work out in Atlanta, Tampa Bay may be the next best opportunity.
“Bernard’s a guy that we had in Atlanta for a while,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said after practice Wednesday, referencing the coach-player overlap in 2014 when he was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. “He’s one of the quickest guys on the field. We call him Speedy Reedy for short and he’s just a quick little guy in the slot on those little crossing routes. He has a knack for getting himself open.”
Speaking with the media after walk-throughs Wednesday, Reedy said that familiarity with Koetter’s overall offensive vision is an obvious plus. “The playbook is like second nature since I was with Dirk before so I’m able to run fast without thinking,” Reedy said, adding that a little extra nighttime playbook studying is helping out, as well.
Helping the transition further is having a fellow St. Pete native right in his position room every day. Granted they never walked the halls of Lakewood at the same time, veteran receiver Louis Murphy is also a former Spartan who’s been helping Reedy out since his arrival.
“Louis Murphy is like an older brother to me,” Reedy said. “He’s been showing me the ropes since I attended his camp actually. He told me, to be in your home town, you have to be smart, you have to watch who you’re around, stuff like that.”
In addition to trying to earn his way onto the roster among a crowd of 11 receivers, Reedy knows versatility can only help his chances. “I think it’s up for grabs and that competitiveness is bringing the best out of everybody. That’s what we’re here for, to compete. Everyone has to earn a job and may the beset person win.”
Reedy’s presence during minicamp gives the Buccaneers five players who played their high school ball in the Tampa Bay area. Murphy and Reedy are joined by fellow Pinellas County native Jeremiah George (Clearwater High), rookie Vernon Hargreaves III (Wharton High) and Andre Davis (Jefferson High).
All I can say is good luck local boy. Handle your business and chips fall where they may.
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy…
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