How Eagles LB Haason Reddick went from Temple walk-on to NFL game-wrecker

PHILADELPHIA — The query had zero to do with premier edge rusher Haason Reddick, however Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts could not assist turning the main target towards him.

Within the wake of Philadelphia’s 31-7 throttling of the San Francisco 49ers within the NFC title sport Sunday, Hurts was requested about his personal situational consciousness in key moments and was within the midst of speaking about soccer IQ and fundamentals when he pivoted.

“Haason Reddick, he is been a nasty dude all yr,” Hurts stated. “And that is what we want going ahead.”

It is exhausting to overstate the impression Reddick made towards San Francisco. Within the first half alone, he racked up two sacks, three pressures, a compelled fumble and a fumble restoration. The 49ers’ destiny was sealed halfway by the primary quarter when Reddick got here flying off the sting and generated a strip sack by swatting on the arm of Brock Purdy, who suffered an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow on the play. It knocked Purdy out of the sport and rendered him ineffective when he was compelled to return following a Josh Johnson concussion.

“You do not ever need anyone to get dinged or get damage, and I hope he is OK,” stated coach Nick Sirianni, “but it surely positively did change the sport.”

Reddick completed the common season with 16 sacks — second to solely his counterpart that day, Nick Bosa — and was second in ESPN’s go rush win fee metric (28%) behind Micah Parsons (30%). His 18.5 sacks created led the league. But he was not named a finalist for defensive participant of the yr.

“Hey, s—,” he stated when requested in regards to the snub. “I feel my play stated it at present. That is all I have to say on that.”

The respect Reddick, 28, has been trying to find not simply all season however for his total soccer life appeared to crash upon him as he stood within the middle of the locker room postgame sporting NFC Champion gear and was engulfed by a swarm of reporters, drawing the most important crowd in a room filled with stars. Moments earlier, with inexperienced and white confetti falling from the sky and hundreds of followers celebrating, the magnitude of the win started to sink in. Reddick, an area child from Camden, New Jersey, had simply helped punch his hometown crew’s ticket to the Tremendous Bowl with an elite efficiency at Lincoln Monetary Discipline — the identical stadium the place he earned his soccer chops enjoying for Temple.

And now he was headed to the Tremendous Bowl in Arizona, the place his skilled profession started and his NFL dream almost died.

“It is loopy, man. Simply blessings on blessings on blessings,” Reddick stated. “I did not see this coming, and now that it is right here, I am perplexed.”

MOST NFL SUCCESS tales begin with tales of dominating on the soccer subject as youngsters, demonstrating means that had coaches satisfied massive issues have been on the horizon.

Reddick’s will not be a type of tales.

When Reddick arrived at Haddon Heights Excessive College, he was “simply one other skinny child who’s acquired some expertise and athletic means,” in keeping with the college’s athletic coach, Tim O’Donnell, including that Reddick “did not stand out” initially.

Reddick’s junior and senior seasons have been derailed by accidents. He was sidelined for his total junior yr with a development plate fracture in his leg and missed the majority of his senior yr with a meniscus tear in his knee. Prospects of enjoying faculty ball seemed bleak.

However Reddick’s father, Raymond Matthew, was tight with a brand new member of Temple’s teaching employees, Francis Brown, and reached out.

“They needed to beg and principally say, ‘Hey, are you able to make a spot for this child?'” Haddon Heights coach Chris Lina stated.

Reddick made the crew as a walk-on and began his profession as a defensive again earlier than transitioning to edge rusher as he placed on weight. Making inroads as a non-scholarship athlete proved difficult below Temple’s head coach Steve Addazio. Addazio instructed Reddick after his freshman season that he would not have a spot on the crew transferring ahead, a number of folks near Reddick stated.

However when Addazio left to turn into head coach at Boston School and Matt Rhule took over at Temple, Reddick was again on the crew.

“Modified his life,” Lina stated.

Reddick went on to compile 17.5 sacks and 47 tackles for loss over 4 seasons at Temple. A robust senior yr led to him being chosen thirteenth total by the Arizona Cardinals within the 2017 NFL draft.

REDDICK FLOURISHED IN faculty as an outdoor rusher however was requested to play inside linebacker his first few seasons with the Cardinals. By the point the 2020 season rolled round, he was mentally exhausted.

All that is required of the within linebacker place — studying keys, expecting pulling guards, intense give attention to alignment — didn’t enable Reddick to play the sort of quick, instinctual fashion of soccer he naturally excelled at.

“I bear in mind having a dialog with my dad earlier than I used to be making the choice whether or not I wished to return to the sting or not,” Reddick stated in September. “I bear in mind telling him I really feel like if I do not do that, I really feel like if I do not ask them to place me again, after this it is both no extra soccer, no extra NFL for me or I will be only a particular teamer.”

Matthew’s recommendation was to “go away all of the playing cards on the desk.”

Coming into the ultimate yr of his rookie contract, Reddick approached Davis and then-defensive coordinator Vance Joseph about transferring again exterior. With all events having nothing to lose, the place change was made. A Chandler Jones damage opened a window of alternative and Reddick cashed in, racking up 12.5 sacks in 2020.

Nonetheless, Arizona did not re-sign him.

“It was very disappointing that we did not discover a technique to hold him,” Arizona linebackers coach Billy Davis stated. “As a training employees, we thought the world of him as a employee, as a teammate. I haven’t got a knock on Haason. I want we nonetheless had him.”

The Carolina Panthers inked Reddick to a one-year, $8 million deal that offseason and Reddick generated 11 sacks, however once more discovered himself as a free agent at season’s finish.

The Eagles pounced, inking him to a three-year, $45 million deal in March, in hopes he’d be the lacking piece to defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s group — and he has been.

Reddick has 19.5 sacks in 19 video games, together with the playoffs. Including some weight over the offseason — he is formally listed at 6-foot-1, 240 kilos — added one other dimension to his sport, permitting him to “transfer guys out of my approach at my will, every time I wished to.”

Nonetheless, Reddick has hardly ever been talked about among the many prime guys at his place. These near him surmise it is a product of initially being an inside linebacker, switching groups a number of occasions and enjoying in smaller markets previous to Philly.

“I am not crying or begging for respect but it surely’s acquired to be there,” Reddick stated following a Dec. 11 win over the New York Giants, when he reached double-digit sacks for a 3rd straight season. “Three completely different groups, three completely different schemes, three completely different head coaches, three completely different [defensive coordinators]. What does that let you know?”

After the Defensive Participant of the Yr finalists have been launched, omitting him, Reddick tweeted: “Sooner or later, this s— gotta cease.”

SIGNING WITH PHILADELPHIA was influenced by his want to be nearer to household. He wished to return house, and there have been loads of perks.

In October, he visited his previous highschool to ship an inspirational message to the present gamers.

“I can inform the children on a regular basis about exhausting work and dedication and it would not matter. He got here in and stated the identical stuff to the fellows, but it surely was nice coming from a man sporting an Eagles shirt who sat in the identical cafeteria you sat in,” Lina stated.

“Our youngsters are like, ‘I am greater than him.’ And I am like, ‘Yeah, he is approach higher than you’re,” Lina stated with fun. “That man will not be blessed with being big in measurement however he is acquired a drive in him that most individuals can’t discover.”

Excessive crime charges could make Camden a harmful place to develop up. To assist hold Reddick out of hurt’s approach when he was arising, Matthew had him give attention to soccer and figuring out.

“We’d run a mile to the fitness center, would prepare and would stroll again a mile,” Matthew stated. “It was a number of dialog, simply ensuring he is seeing each scope of life. He was mature at an early age.”

The custom continues through the offseason, although they not run to the native coaching facility.

“The mile journey, we do not have to try this no extra. That was a monetary motive,” he stated with fun. “We did not have it. Every thing’s modified now.”

Reddick made his first Professional Bowl this season and was named second-team All-Professional. He is enjoying a lead position for one of many two finest groups within the land, and will probably be enjoying in Tremendous Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium, the place his profession almost fizzled out and was resurrected.

“I do not suppose the story may have been written any higher,” Reddick stated.

Matthew was in attendance for the NFC Championship Recreation and acquired goosebumps enthusiastic about how issues have performed out for his son.

“Every thing is simply full circle proper now,” Matthew stated. “It simply makes us a believer in all the things. Laborious work pays off. It does. The great man lastly received.”

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