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C.J. Reyes: In relentless pursuit

Former Hart High quarterback has fought to earn scholarship money, play time

Posted: July 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.

C.J. Reyes, a red-shirt sophomore at Idaho State University and former Hart High player, has overcome the skepticism he initially received about his abilities to play in college. Reyes is now under partial scholarship.

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From quarterback to kicker to slot receiver?

Talk about the road less traveled.

That, though, is exactly what former Hart High signal caller C.J. Reyes is up to at Idaho State University.

The walk-on turned partial-scholarship athlete will be the starting punter this season, but a desire for more playing time convinced the red-shirt sophomore to approach a new coach about playing a new position.

“I asked (head coach Mike Kramer) if I could start playing a different position because I like to help out the team and stuff, so he tried to put me at slot this last spring,” Reyes says. “I got in, played second string for slot receiver in the spring games and did the best I could, and that’s how I earned my scholarship.”

So for the first time since his pre-high school days, Reyes found himself running routes and catching balls.

And he’s been doing pretty well, too.

Not that it comes as a surprise to those who know him well.

“He’s a competitor,” says Hart High head football coach Mike Herrington. “He’s a good athlete, and he loves to compete, and I know he was probably wanting to get out on the football field and he saw an opportunity and took it.”

That was a sentiment echoed by his close friend and Idaho State, kicker Brendon Garcia.

“I wasn’t really surprised. C.J. is always the kind of guy that tries to do as much as he can,” Garcia says. “Once he got here from Hart, you could tell he was itching to do a little more than just kick. I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to, but I was surprised at how good he was.”

He earned himself plenty of playing time during spring practices, and hopes to get on the field at slot in a back up role this season.

But one area he won’t have any trouble seeing the field in is special teams.

After red-shirting his freshman year and playing sparingly last season, Reyes earned the starting punting position in the spring.

“I would be happy punting and going into slot whenever they need me,” Reyes says. “But I would like to play slot.

I kind of want to do the two-way thing. Maybe punt and play slot because they sub in a lot, so if anything, I want to be that second guy.”

In the meantime, Reyes will continue to perform starting punting duties, a job he earned in large part because of his Hart pedigree.

It helped “immensely,” Kramer says. “When I first met him, he told me he had been the starting quarterback at Hart High School. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Hart quarterbacks are 6 (foot), 1 (inch), 6-2, 6-3 guys. Not that Hart High. And he said ‘Yeah that Hart High School.’ In a world where first impressions mean so much, he gets way underestimated. And I did — I underestimated him. And it makes me happy that he’s tough enough and strong enough to withstand my judgement.”

Chances are, though, opponents will continue to underestimate Reyes, who is listed at 5-foot-7, 211 pounds.
They also might soon regret that.

The Bengals are expected to utilize the rugby-style punt that has become popular in the college ranks, and his throwing abilities give Idaho State plenty of freedom to run fakes.

As a senior at Hart, Reyes threw for 1,278 yards, including 12 touchdowns.

“What we try to do in our roll punt situation is try to run or throw the ball,” Kramer says. “And he’s got a really, really nice arm being a starting quarterback at Hart.”

As the team’s starting punter, he’ll fill the shoes of departed All-American David Harrington, while also trying to work his way into the offense.

And even with plenty of hard work behind him, Reyes knows the work isn’t over.

“Oh not even close,” Reyes says. “I’ve still got to lose more weight, get a little bigger. That’s what (coach Kramer) told me, when I came back up there, I have to look a certain way.”

And if there’s anyone willing to put in the work, it’s Reyes.

“You can’t bottle that,” Kramer says. “The way C.J. is, you would want your son to be. And I want every one of my players to mimic his daily consistency, his daily friendliness and openness and willingness to do whatever it takes to make us successful.”

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