Eagles' Reynolds an experienced camper

Posted: May 22, 2014

WOODBERRY Forest, an all-male high school in Virginia, is a boarding school, so its varsity football players are relied upon during the summer to train for the coming season while at home. From 2007 to '10, the school's coach, Clint Alexander, never had to worry whether his star player, new Eagles safety Ed Reynolds, was putting in the offseason work.

For three summers in high school, Reynolds enjoyed a gig as a ball boy at the New York Giants' training camp. There, at the University of Albany, he would work out alongside the likes of Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce and Plaxico Burress, to name a few.

"He's got some eyes on him," Alexander said with a laugh during a telephone interview this week. "We were always pretty comfortable that Ed was going to show up [the next fall] ready to go."

A running back as well as a defensive back in high school, Reynolds would hang around with both the Giants' offensive and defensive players and train with the team's strength coach.

"I was all over the place," Reynolds said after Friday's rookie minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. "It was a great time just learning from them and being able to be around that environment was a great thing for me."

An Eagles' fifth-round pick out of Stanford 11 days ago, Reynolds now finds himself back in an NFL environment, as one of seven safeties and 14 defensive backs on Philadelphia's roster. Listed at 6-1, 207 pounds, he has been billed by Chip Kelly as a physical, hard-nosed free safety with a high football IQ.

That likely comes, at least in part, from growing up around the game. Reynolds' father, also named Ed, spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a linebacker for the Patriots (1983-91) and Giants (1992). Although the younger Reynolds doesn't remember his father's playing days, he has seen game film and heard stories from his dad's former teammates.

"He was an undrafted free agent, had to go make a team," Reynolds said of his father. "He did so and then ended up leading the team in tackles a couple years while he was with the Patriots. [I'm] just taking that work ethic that he had and trying to carry that in my game, as well."

Following his playing career, Reynolds' father spent 12 years working for the NFL, first dealing in player engagement - he helped implement uniform inspections so players could avoid fines for infractions - and then in the security department, traveling to give presentations to the teams and putting measures in place for players to protect themselves from fraud.

During that time, Reynolds lived with his family in nearby Lawrenceville, N.J. When he was in middle school, his dad took him to watch Eagles practice and meet Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. A couple times when Reynolds was home for breaks from Woodberry Forest, his father took him to the NovaCare Complex to get football injuries checked out by then-head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, an intern when the elder Reynolds played in New England.

Reynolds' father, speaking by phone from North Carolina, where the family now resides, said he has been marveling at how things have come full circle.

"It's crazy just being back in this building now trying to earn a spot on this team and being an Eagle," the younger Reynolds said.

A prominent characteristic discussed regarding Reynolds is his intelligence, something that was evident to Alexander years ago. The high school coach tells a story of when he flew to California to watch Stanford play Notre Dame. It was during the 2011 season, which Reynolds missed because of two knee ligament tears the previous spring. Instead of the sophomore watching the games from the sideline, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason had him upstairs in the coaches' box.

"They figured out in a hurry how smart Ed was and how much of a mind he had for football," Alexander said.

Reynolds broke out the next season, as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, intercepting six passes, returning a Stanford-record three for touchdowns. As a junior last season, his 87 tackles ranked third on Mason's defense, a unit that ranked 16th in the nation in yards allowed per game.

If he had returned for another season, Reynolds could have improved his stock for next year's draft. But after starting 27 games over the last 2 years, he felt ready for the next level.

After this past weekend's rookie minicamp, Reynolds flew back to Stanford, where he is still taking classes. He said Friday he would set up times with the coaches to Skype. Helping his cause is that all their meetings are podcasted, he said. Per NFL rules, Reynolds won't participate in team activities until he completes his last final during the second week of June. Zach Ertz, Reynolds' former teammate at Stanford, found himself in the same situation last spring.

When he does return to Philly, Reynolds will have to work his way into a role in a safety group that includes free-agent signee Malcolm Jenkins and returnees Nate Allen and Earl Wolff.

But as far as training camps go, it won't be Reynolds' first.

On Twitter: @jakemkaplan

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