Countdown to kickoff: A timely move to WR made No. 25 Josh Reed one of LSU’s best ever

Editor’s note: We’re counting down to LSU’s Sept. 3 season opener against Florida State with a look back at the greatest Tiger players at each number from The Advocate book “LSU By The Numbers.” Thursday marks 25 days until kickoff, so we remember No. 25, All-American wide receiver Josh Reed:

25 Josh Reed

WR, 1999-01

Fred Biletnikoff Award winner 2001

All-American 2001

All-SEC 2000-01

Josh Reed came to LSU sporting some impressive credentials as a running back. He ran for 2,143 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior and 2,521 yards as a junior at Rayne High School.

But late in his freshman season of 1999, Reed was languishing down the depth chart at tailback. That was when quarterback Josh Booty suggested to then-coach Gerry DiNardo that the Tigers try Reed at receiver. At the time, LSU was still searching for a replacement for Michael Hayes, a surprising August transfer to Southern, and even tried bolstering its depth by having players like quarterback Craig Nall catching passes.

“I saw him play in high school,” Booty said of Reed. “I was like, ‘This kid, he could catch the ball. He’s a slot guy. Why do you have him on the bench when we’ve got Craig out there running routes? All you’ve got to do is get this guy on-on-one and he’ll make something happen.’ ”

Born in 1980, Reed was indeed excellent after the catch, using skills he developed as a running back to elude tacklers in space.

“If you get it in the open field, you have a chance to do so many things,” Reed said. “You try to find the open areas, make a few people miss and the rest takes care of itself.”

Reed finally got in at receiver in Week 9 at Alabama, catching his first pass from Booty for 11 yards. It was, as the saying goes, the start of something big.

“They gave me a chance,” Reed said. “It was just running routes. That’s not too hard.”

Reed certainly made it look easy. He rewrote the LSU record book in 2000 and 2001, becoming the first Tiger with back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, earning All-SEC honors as a sophomore before being a consensus All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner as a junior. He was the first LSU receiver to be an Associated Press first-team All American since Ken Kavanaugh in 1939.

Reed had a team-leading 1,127 yards and 10 touchdowns on 65 catches in 2000. He followed that with a season for the ages in 2001 with 94 catches for 1,740 yards and seven scores, an NCAA-leading 145.0 yards per game. With 10 100-yard receiving games, he ended up breaking 15 LSU and SEC records, his 94 receptions the second-highest total for an SEC receiver. Reed held the single-season school yardage receiving record until Ja’Marr Chase came along with 1,780 yards in 2019, albeit in 14 games compared to 12 for Reed (bowl stats did not count then).

His signature game came Nov. 3 that season in a 35-21 victory at Alabama. It wasn’t a game that started well for Reed, who had a muffed punt (filling in for injured Domanick Davis) and fumble early.

“Great teammates. They didn’t let me get down,” Reed said. “They stayed in my face, told me, ‘Don’t worry about it, get ‘em back.’ ”

That he did. Playing an unprecedented game of pitch-and-catch with quarterback Rohan Davey, Reed ended up with 19 catches (still an SEC record) for 293 yards and a touchdown.

“Josh Reed is a great competitor,” then-LSU coach Nick Saban said. “He’s a strong-bodied guy. He has the strength to run through people. But his best asset is his ability to change direction and come out of the break.”

After one last brilliant performance — 14 catches for 239 yards and two scores in a 47-34 Sugar Bowl win over Illinois — Reed passed up his senior season to enter the 2002 NFL draft. He was selected with the fourth pick of the second round by the Buffalo Bills. He played eight seasons in Buffalo, finishing with 311 catches for 3,575 yards and 10 touchdowns.


Year G-GS Catches Yards YPC TDs

1999 8-1 8 134 16.8 0

2000 11-3 65 1,127 17.3 10

2001 12-12 94 1,740 18.5 7

TOTALS 32 176 3,097 17.6 17

This LSU great also wore No. 25 …

Y.A. Tittle, QB, 1944-47

Yelberton Abraham Tittle was a two-time All-SEC selection in 1946-47 before going on to play 17 pro seasons with the Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. He was a three-time NFL MVP with Giants from 1961-63 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

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