Sept. 20, 2013
By Jeff Brown
For three years, Tevin Reese bided his time behind arguably the two best receivers ever to wear the green and gold. Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams are each starting in the NFL now, as Reese remains at Baylor, the sole senior receiver on the 2013 team.
But unlike recent years where those star seniors were complemented by other veteran receivers - Wright by Williams, and Williams by another senior, Lanear Sampson - Reese is far and away the most experienced receiver on the Bears' roster this fall. When camp broke in August, Reese had 149 career receptions; the rest of the starting receiving corps had combined for just 69.
"I have no choice but to lead, because we've got a lot of young guys playing: Corey (Coleman), Rob (Rhodes), Lynx (Hawthorne)," says Reese. "They're redshirt freshmen or sophomores, so they need somebody to lead them. We don't have too many vocal receivers; they're real calm, cool and collected. They just keep to themselves and speak when they need to. I just know to go out there and be the one who's talking a lot, yelling a lot, keeping everybody going. I love it."
His unique experience among this year's receivers has thrust Reese into a leadership role he didn't particularly seek out, but carries nonetheless.
"As a senior receiver, everybody in the group is looking at you," says the Temple, Texas, native. "This year, I'm the only senior receiver. When your teammates look up at you as being the No. 1 guy, you've got to have the mentality that `I'm the No. 1 guy, and I gotta lead this team.'"
Reese doesn't shy away from the mantle of being considered Baylor's No. 1 receiver, despite the possible pressure of trying to fill Wright's and Williams' shoes in an offense now known for its passing threat.
"It's not like we walk around in the locker room, parading around like `Hey, I'm the No. 1 guy - I'm getting more passes than you.' It's `He did everything he had to do up to this point, so he should get rewarded, and we'll help him get rewarded.' Antwan [Goodley, a junior receiver] isn't thinking `Tevin's gonna get all the passes; I'm not gonna come to work.' Antwan's still working to get all the passes he can, and he will get a lot of passes.
"Being the star receiver at Baylor isn't necessarily getting all the passes; it's making the most of the passes that they do throw you."
That approach has worked for Reese, who has transformed from a little-used tight end in high school - he had just six catches as a junior at Temple High School - into a top individual threat on one of the nation's top offensive teams.
Even while playing second or third fiddle behind his predecessors, Reese was quietly putting together a pretty impressive stat sheet. He began 2013 among Baylor's career leaders in receptions (eighth), yards (fifth) and touchdowns (sixth), thanks to his pairing of incredible speed and a willing work ethic. A repeat of his junior year - when he pulled down 53 receptions for 957 yards and nine touchdowns - would vault him into Baylor's top three in each category.
"It's a lot of film study," he explains. "If you know the weakness of your opponents, then you can play to your strengths. If you know that their hips aren't that good, you know that you can use your speed to get around them this way or that. We've got a lot of people on our team with speed; it's about knowing how to use it.
"I've got an outstanding receiver corps to take a lot of the pressure off of me. I just have to relax and let the game come to me."
If Reese can do that, it won't be just the game coming to him; it'll be the NFL, too.