Dominique Reed trying to get out of the doghouse, regain status as SEC speed freak
FAYETTEVILLE - If you were wondering why Cody Hollister, a player with 17 career catches at Arkansas, was starting at wide receiver over Dominique Reed, a player who led the Southeastern Conference in yards-per-catch, you stopped wondering after practice Wednesday.
Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema has been less than thrilled with Reed, a senior, for good chunk of the last few months. In Bielema's season-opening press conference he expressed annoyance Reed was the last player on the roster to turn a necessary NCAA-related form. His next presser, Bielema said Reed needed to show it "every down." Ultimately the coach said Reed simply "hasn't had a good summer."
Too many parts Wednesday saw Reed in trouble with Bielema and wide receivers coach Michael Smith. Reasons were varied. Misaligned. Miscommunication. Both simultaneously. Hollister had no such trouble.
"I didn't feel that this spring he performed the way he was performing at the end of the year and it was evident. He got beat out," Smith said. "And he got beat out by a really good wide receiver. For him to get his job back, he's going to have to work his tail off."
Smith takes Reed's success personally. Reed isn't just a wide receiver and Smith is his position coach. Smith was the coach who recruited and signed Reed, whom Bielema called the No. 1 target of the 2015 recruiting class.
Reed's success at Arkansas was sudden. Arkansas' first four games last year, Reed missed one (DNP) and he totaled two catches for nine yards. Both grabs came in game four. The rest of the season, those nine games: 27 catches for 526 yards and six touchdowns. When the light came on, it nearly exploded. Reed has been projected by some national outlets to the breakout player on the team.
Right now, he's still out of a job. A starting job, anyway.
A large part of Bielema's and Smith's frustration is because of the untapped potential. It was hard to believe when Bielema called Reed their top target - days earlier in-state wide receiver K.J. Hill had spurned Arkansas to go to Ohio State, instead. The Razorbacks were in hard with Hill. Outside the program it was thought Reed was the silver medal. But since arriving, and seeing the blazing speed he carries first-hand, it's been clear the upside was even larger than Hill's.
So Bielema and Smith have tried everything they can to get that potential uncorked. That's a lot of what Wednesday was. Reed has just the one season left after transferring from junior college. Another four- or five-game stall might leave Arkansas in similar spot they were last year after the early parts of the season.
"When I say peaks and valleys it's only because he has such a skill-set that can give him an opportunity if he really really understands and really really embraces what he's capable of doing as a football player and as a young man for that matter. The sky's the limit for him," Smith said.
Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin