Junior cornerback John Reid missed Penn State's entire 2017 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a spring practice drill. But one look to the visiting sideline last September at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium in the Nittany Lions' Big Ten opener showed just how much Reid meant to the team.
Conference rules dictate that visiting teams are limited to just 70 players for Big Ten road games. Yet Reid was included in that number even though he couldn't play, and that continued for the former St. Joseph's Prep star in the Lions' next four road games at Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Maryland.
Given Reid's ravenous appetite for film study and preparation, whether playing or not, he provided guidance to his teammates in the secondary all season, including some signaling in games. He said being helpful was just a continuation of what he does as an active player.
As for being allowed to travel, Reid told coach James Franklin that he was "really appreciative about how they handled everything on my injury."
"Outside of me not playing, I still feel like I was really involved with everything," Reid said before the Fiesta Bowl. "They kept me involved entirely. I told them I was really appreciative of that because when you get hurt … you almost feel like you have a falling out.
"But here, I was really grateful they kept me very involved. The only thing that wasn't happening was, I wasn't playing. That [stinks]. But I was really grateful for the way they treated me."
Reid, who started all 14 games in 2015 and made honorable mention all-Big Ten, said he will participate in winter workouts while continuing with his rehabilitation, and will be ready to go when spring practice begins.
It has been a long road back for Reid, who retains his junior eligibility next season. He was hurt on April 1. When he called some of his friends to tell them what happened, they initially felt he was making an April Fools' joke.
Reid had problems at first coming to grips with what happened, but he bounced back with the help of his teammates, coaches, athletic trainers, family and friends, including Gabe Infante, his head coach at the Prep.
"I had never really gotten hurt," he said. "I got hurt in high school but it was nothing too serious, it was something I could bounce back from. To get an injury that they say is going to take a while and take a lot of patience, initially it's tough but you start to realize all the people that have been through it.
"The real you really comes out, the type of man you are, the type of confidence you have in yourself. That really shows. For me, that's been the biggest thing, just staying confident, working hard and pushing through. That's kind of something I've always done. My focus had to go from being the best I can be at football to crushing my rehab every day and making sure I'm being consistent. …