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College football: Reid, Bluejays looking to make big waves

AARON HAGENDaily Globe WORTHINGTON -- Kenny Reid is all about second chances. Coming to Minnesota West was a second chance for him. And this season is a second chance for the sophomore on the Bluejay football team to go after the junior college s...

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Minnesota West returning football players for 2016 are (top row, from left) Houston Coleman, Devon Davis, Jayvon Green, Kenny Reid, Travis Wilson, Tyrone Topps Jr., Aaron Moore, Jared Kinley, Travis Standberry, (front) Jose Olvera, Tyler Kurrasch, Alex Chery, Farod Anderson, Trey Murdock, J'Lonte Cook and Deshawn Gohl. Tim Middagh/Daily Globe

AARON HAGEN
Daily Globe 

WORTHINGTON -- Kenny Reid is all about second chances.

Coming to Minnesota West was a second chance for him.

And this season is a second chance for the sophomore on the Bluejay football team to go after the junior college sack record.

"Coming here, this is my second shot, my second chance," said Reid, a native of Milwaukee, Wis. "It's just me taking advantage of what I got and taking off with that. I had a couple of friends that I went to high school with and they ended up coming out here. And at the last minute they were like, 'Bring your butt up here.' They had a place and everything. I just left. I was working a third shift job back home and didn't think I was about to do this. I just took my second chance and I was going to run with it."

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Reid finished last season second in the nation with a school-record 16.5 sacks as the Bluejays finished 3-6. This year, he has his eye on a few more quarterback takedowns and the national record of 24.5 sacks, but realizes opposing teams will keep close tabs on the defensive end.

"I’m going into the game like I did last year, taking one game at a time, I don't worry about what other people think about me," Reid said. "I have 10 other players. So now if they have a target on me, they are going to miss one other player on the field. Even though I might not have that season, as a team we're going to have a season."

A year ago, Reid admitted he wasn't in the best shape. This year, he's much more conditioned. Which spells trouble for offensive linemen trying to keep up.

"I got a six-pack. Last year I had a belly and I would fold my jersey up in practice every day. Everybody would laugh at me, but I'm like next year, I'm going to have it," Reid said. "This year I came in and wanted to get fit and get right. I found out in January I didn't make first team All-American. I kind have been on a mad man mission ever since."

Reid isn't the only opposing presence on the defensive front for the Bluejays. Linebackers Tyler Kurrasch, Andrew Sorensen and Danny McCann are players that head coach Jeff Linder points to as guys who will anchor what should be a tough MW defense.

"It's pretty stacked right now, it's looking pretty good," Kurrasch said of the defense. "We have big Kenny Reid, he's a beast. The edge is a lot easier to contain with Kenny on the side."

Linder, in his 22nd year as head coach, will have a bit of a change as Bernie Strouth and Ben DeVries take over as defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively, replacing long-time assistants Scott Barber and Gene Lais.

The team opens at home Saturday at 11 a.m. against Itasca.

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"We just moved Bernie up from position to coordinator and Benny came back," Linder said. "Benny played for me here. Tyler Skow, he played for me, he's doing secondary and linebackers for us. We didn't really lose too much of a step, just get them back on board and up to speed with what we're trying to do."

For returning players like Kurrasch, it was also a bit of an adjustment.

"(Strouth) took a lot of what Barber had going," he said. "There's definitely been a lot of changes and running a lot of different defenses. It's basically all the same system. He has his way and that's what we have to do this year."

This year's Bluejay team is light on numbers with less than 40 in camp. But that can be both a positive and a negative.

"We've progressed faster than normal," Linder said. "But that might be attributed to the lower numbers and more one-on-one coaching. We have some great kids that are wanting to do it our way. It's just a little bit different atmosphere than it has been in the past. It's kind of exciting. We have more one-on-one conversations with players and getting to know them even better."

With a limited number of players, linemen may have to rotate back and forth between offense and defense. One thing is for certain, the coach said, players will get their chance to see the field.

“I think it's helped the team because everyone is playing together more and you're conditioned more,” Kurrasch said. “You just know everybody that much better and what they can do and how they are going to play.”

Kurrasch is hoping a solid defense and a balanced offense will help Minnesota West improve on last year’s 3-6 finish.

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“Last year was rough because I thought we could have done way better and everyone thought we could have done way better,” Kurrasch said. “We just need to finish games. This year, we have a lot of guys that came back experienced and ready to win some games.”

Related Topics: COLLEGE FOOTBALL
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