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2014 NFL Draft: Ed Reynolds can't wait to be at training camp (again)

Stanford safety Ed Reynolds was once a ball boy at Giants training camp. He spoke with SB Nation, about returning to the NFL field, except as a top draft pick.

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Ed Reynolds has already been to NFL training camp. The Stanford safety is the son of a former NFL linebacker who spent nine seasons with the New England Patriots and one with the New York Giants. When Reynolds was in high school, he spent three summers as a ball boy at Giants training camp, and received an early indoctrination into the lifestyle and work necessary to play at the highest level of football.

The elder Ed Reynolds played an important role in his son's life, but never to the point of overbearance. Reynolds' love of football is purely his own, and he is anxious to get on the field for the start of rookie minicamp. He took time to talk with SB Nation about growing up as an NFL kid, training with Stanford's tight community of NFL players and what he'll miss the most (and least) from his time in California.

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How are draft preparations going?

It's going well. I'm back out at school, going to classes, doing that thing, but also just making sure I'm staying in shape, keeping up with the workouts I have. The draft is right around the corner, so, once that draft day comes around, then it's rookie minicamp, which is either the following weekend or the weekend after that.

So just making sure I'm prepared for when that day comes, and enjoying my last spring semester at Stanford.

What's your daily regimen like with classes in between?

Right now I get up around 8:30, grab something to eat, drive over to campus to get to my class at 10, and then during the day I'll either have a huge break, which is when I'll get my workout in for the day. If not, my Mondays and Wednesdays are kind of jammed, I'll usually have two classes back-to-back, and then I'll grab something to eat then I'll work out within a three-hour period, and then I have class during the day also.

From there -- after workouts, after classes -- I head back home and I'm just relaxing, doing some homework, doing whatever else I have to do for class. Just getting ready for the next day.

Are you working out with some of your Stanford teammates?

Yeah, right now it's myself, my teammate Devon Carrington, a guy who was my teammate -- not this past year but the year before that -- his name is Terrence Brown. We're out here hitting the field, making sure we're still working on DB drills, ball skills, foot ladders, cones, agilities, big things like that. We all pretty much lift together as well, it all depends on what our schedules are like. So sometimes we'll have to get in our lifts on our own, but we're always on the field together.

Is there a particular aspect of your game that you're trying to hone in on?
Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's just making sure I'm in the best, peak condition as I can be. It's been a while since I've had to put pads on, and really have to play in a game and run around like that. So just making sure that I'm staying in shape, staying efficient.

And for me, it's just making sure that I always fine-tune my DB drills -- my footwork, coming out of breaks, high-pointing the ball. Just making sure that I'm fine-tuning that because that's what we always do in a football game.

The weightroom is great and I'm always trying to stay strong, stay flexible, but for me it's all about doing the DB stuff out in this field, and brushing the grass every day.

Evaluating yourself as a player, what are some of your strengths?

I think my play-making ability on the back end, my instincts, the way I can read quarterbacks, my play recognition, my football IQ as a whole, my ability to make tackles in space, my range, and just being a vocal leader out there.

For us especially, it's huge to be able to communicate with each other, so being able to communicate to the rest of the DBs across the field to our linebackers, I feel like that's a big thing I can bring to a team.

What did you do at Stanford in particular that you think prepared you for the next level?

I think our coaching staff as a whole did a great job of teaching us here, and in specific myself, just the game of football. Knowing the game, the situational game, and the ability to watch film and break down tendencies, break down opponents.

On the field, being able to use my hands, whether its shedding blocks or coming into contact. Just being able to play fast and find angles, and just making sure I'm running through contact when it comes to me. Never second guessing myself when I'm trying to make a play.

At what point did you know you were ready for the NFL?

I kind of came into this season with that mindset, that I was taking everything like this is my last go around for spring ball, for summer conditioning with teammates, for fall camp. So I kind of went on the field with that mindset, and I feel like that's how I wanted to play, that this would be my last season of college football.

Taking that season as it came, and right after the Rose Bowl, coming out of the locker room, I just knew that this is my time to say good bye to college football and I'm ready to make that move to the next level.

What was your support like from your coaches, David Shaw and defensive coordinator Derek Mason?

It was great. It was one of those things where I went into bowl prep and had those conversations with Coach Shaw and Coach Mason. They pretty much said it was up to me. They said that I couldn't go wrong, they felt like I was ready to branch out and be a professional in this sport, but also that they wouldn't be mad if I decided to come back [laughs] and be a fifth-year senior on this team.

I got support from all angles, there was no one trying to convince me one way or another. Everyone told me "do what you feel like, we'll support you either way," and I thank them for that.

What was the presence of your dad like, given his own history with football?

It was pretty much the same. My dad has never been the type of guy to try to push me one way or another because he feels strongly a certain way. He's the type of guy who realizes that I'm a man at this point, and that I need to make my own decisions and live by those decisions, and take the consequences as they come.

He said however I felt, if I felt that I was ready to leave college football and I had done everything I wanted to do and I was ready to be a professional, go for it. He has still been that way to this point. It's good to have him as a sounding board, where I can bounce ideas off him, the way I'm feeling about certain things, and preparing myself for the next level.

You were able to get close to the Giants' organization because of your dad, and you were in training camp as a ball boy. Would it mean something to you to go to New York?

It would be. I wouldn't say so much because of my dad, I'd say because growing up in high school I worked for them, so I know the organization. It'd be something that would come full circle. That'd be crazy to go from ball boy to draft pick.

Regardless, of whether I go to the Giants or not, my goal is just to play in this league and be a force in the league.

Was the combine experience nerve-wracking for you?

It can be, it can be. It's made to be a situation where you're pulled in many different directions, you're pulling long hours, you're on your feet for long hours doing medical stuff, interviews. You finally get to the end and do the stuff that you came there to do.

Overall, it was a good experience. It was a once in a lifetime thing and I appreciate being able to meet some of the players there. I was good enough being invited. Overall it was a good experience.

What was the toughest part of the experience? Interviews? Testing?

Interviews came naturally for me. It was one of those times where you get to sit down with people who love football -- coaches, assistants, GMs -- and you get to talk football, and I like doing that. For me it was being able to get myself in the mindset and prepare to perform to the best of my ability.

I performed well in some things, but I didn't run as well as I wanted to. It was an overall good experience, but did I perform to my highest level? No, but that's why you have pro days.

You feel like you improved at your pro day?

Oh yeah, tremendously. My pro day I did my vert again, and I ran the 40 again, and I ran the shuttle, DB drills. I ran like I know I can run at my pro day -- I think I did 4.44 or 4.45 .. 4.41, that's where most teams had me -- and I ended up jumping a 38" vert, so those are big jumps from my combine times. And then just doing the DB stuff again, because I felt good about my DB drills at the Combine, and just being able to add on to that and show off that I have great footwork and ball skills, and being able to have moves as a DB, being able to move backwards and burst out of breaks. It was a big focus for me.

What has the feedback been like from teams? What was the biggest piece of praise, and what was the biggest piece of constructive criticism?

For most of it, going into my combine and going into my pro day, they wanted to see what my speed really was. I feel like a lot of scouts questioned it. So when I came out for pro day and was able to run what I ran, I think that answered a lot of questions.

So the feedback has been great. You know, keep working, keep getting in shape, just let them evaluate my film because the film is your resume, and that's really what they're going to draft off of. Can't really do too much else other than wait now.

Growing up as an NFL kid, who were some of the players that you looked up to?

So I grew up playing running back and safety, mostly running back. I wear the No. 29 because I'm a huge Eric Dickerson fan, I grew up that way -- a tall, lanky back, fast, can turn on a dime, can run past you. So when I first started going up I chose 29 because of him. I've had that number for so long.

In terms of safeties it was Ronnie Lott, Jack Tatum, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor -- all those guys who played at a high level for a very long time. They just did it the right way. That's kind of what I want to emulate my game after.

All those guys I just mentioned have different things about their game that made them one of the top safeties, whether it was their range, their ball skills, their hitting ability, their play-making ability when the play needed to be made, their instincts -- just all of those things. And their athleticism, their eye for the game, their knowledge of the game is what made them so special. And that's something I strive for.

Have you been able to reach out to veterans -- current or former players -- for advice?

Yeah, it's great because a lot of guys come back to work out here at Stanford. There's a period before guys have to report back to teams where Andrew [Luck] is out here, Chris Owusu, Michael Thomas, Jonathan Martin, Ryan Whalen, Doug Baldwin. And then I spoke to Richard Sherman on multiple occasions.

For them to be around to see your work ethic, or work out with them a little bit and just ask them questions -- what's the lifestyle change and everything like that. It's definitely beneficial for me. And they keep it real, they tell you what's really up, and you get a different perspective because a lot of those guys are on different teams, with different fans, different coaching staffs.

What do you feel is the best piece of knowledge you have gotten from those former players?
Photo credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

I think when a lot of guys talk about the draft process -- there's been a range of guys, there's the No. 1 overall pick in [Luck], you have two new Super Bowl champions in Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman, they were both fourth- or fifth-round picks and they're both making huge strides with their teams -- and so the best advice is that no matter where you get drafted it's all about what you do once you get there. Don't worry so much about the hype of a first-round draft pick or second-round draft pick, it's really once you hear your name called, you have that mindset where you enjoy that moment but it's straight to business.

Then it's just going out there and showing that you're worth something to that team, you can contribute some way to that team. Just go out there and play football, because that's the best sport. In the end that's what the game is, that's all it is, it's just going out there and playing football, that's as simple as it can get.

What is something you think you'll miss the most about Stanford and your time in Palo Alto?

I think one of the main things that had me commit to coming here -- coming 3,000 miles away and playing ball out here -- was just the environment, from the guys on this team. Especially the guys in my class who are still here, I know I won't be able to touch the field with them next year but that's a special group of guys that came together from my class. We went to four straight BCS bowl games, we felt like we've given a lot to this program and helped it get to where it is right now. So I'll definitely miss playing alongside those guys, especially on the defense.

And then just enjoying the time out here. It's California, Northern California. Who knows where I'll end up, it could be some place where it snows a lot, rains a lot, gets cold a lot. It's great to be able to go outside and just chill with my friends, and being able to just sit and lay back under the California sun is something I'll miss.

How about this, what do you think you'll miss the least?

Aww man, probably ... that's hard. There's not a lot of stuff not to like out here. Probably having to do our winter conditioning [laughs]. Our winter workouts is probably the hardest thing. It's one of those things where you just got done with the season, so I'm still in football mode, and you're just trying to get to spring ball because you just want to put the pads back on, but you have this small period of just winter stuff. So at times it feels like a waiting game. That's kind of what it feels like right now, waiting to get drafted. That's probably one of the things I'll miss the least.

What would you be doing if you weren't pursuing a career in the NFL?

I don't know. I've thought about business school, getting a masters in -- I majored in political science so I've thought about getting a master in that. My concentration is in international relations, so I really want to go international, making moves international somewhere. I don't know where, but doing something with business or politics. Something in that life. I would probably try to do that first off.

But I want to stay connected with the league in some way. I know my dad worked for the league office for a while and that's something that I've felt that I could enjoy, so working has always meant working for the league office in some department at some point down the road. But who knows.