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'The man runs great routes': MSU's Jayden Reed separates from competition at Senior Bowl

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — You didn't need a pair of eyes to know when Jayden Reed was running routes at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Wednesday — just good hearing.

Reed was the standout player on offense at the National Team's Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala., drawing plenty of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the crowd, as the former Michigan State wideout torched corners all over the field.

"I knew about him before this, man — he's a ball player," said Stanford cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly, who won the day for the National Team defense with an equally impressive performance.

"I feel like he can play a lot of areas. He's very versatile. Good speed, great route-running."

Reed first showed off his agility, getting a corner to bite on a go-route before planting his feet in the ground and coming back to the ball with no defender in sight. He then put a double-move on his defender and streaked for the pylon, where he hauled in a throw from BYU quarterback Jaren Hall.

Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed signs autographs for fans following Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Alabama.

On the third, Reed got inside leverage on a go-route and grabbed a 35-yard throw in the back of the end zone. He'd jump back in for team drills later on, but that would be the last of his individual drills — he'd shown enough.

"The man runs great routes," Hall said. "Obviously, it's my second day with him, so I'm still trying to get to know him a little bit better, understand what he does. But, from what I see, he's just smooth. When a receiver's got it, you can just see that. That's what it is."

Despite playing with blazing speed — he exited day one with the highest game speed (20.03 mph, per Zebra Technologies) on record — Reed said he's been working on slowing his game down, which has had great results.

"That's something I've been focusing on for the last few years," Reed said. "Because I felt like the time in my head was always sped up. What I've been trying to focus on in this is like, tempo changes, changing speeds in my routes, in order to create space."

After a solid day one, Reed was hungry for more entering the Wednesday session. He said prior to practice that grasping his role quickly would allow him to stand out.

He was right.

"Really just knowing what to do, because when you know what to do, you can play a lot faster. And it's just craft. I got to craft every day," Reed said. "People say like, the hardest worker is going to succeed. I just got to work harder than the next person and show them I'm a gamer."

For Reed, his Senior Bowl performance comes with a bonus proposition: The coaches of his hometown Chicago Bears, who desperately need wide-receiver help in the upcoming draft, are leading the American Team. He's putting his name on the map for all 32 teams, but could get special attention from the team he grew up watching — even if he's trying to be cool about it.

"Whatever the opportunity is, that's where I'm going to go, so I wouldn't mind playing at home," Reed said.

Twitter: @nolanbianchi