Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
LUBBOCK, Texas -- Converted wide receiver L.A. Reed's athleticism has always been one of his most intriguing qualities. He came to Texas Tech as a wide receiver before becoming a special-teams demon as a redshirt freshman.
That tackling prowess wowed Tech coaches, who moved him to safety late last season. But a glut of players at that position convinced them to move him to cornerback at the start of training camp.
Despite wearing a bulky cast on his right forearm to protect a broken finger, Reed has earned a starting job even though he's playing a new position. His development will be critical for Tech's secondary as the season progresses.
We caught up with Reed after practice Monday afternoon to talk about his positional transition and his hopes for the upcoming season.
Was it a shock to you when coaches told you they wanted you to switch to cornerback?
L.A. Reed: It was a surprise, but not that much of a surprise. During the summertime, they would give me hints about playing cornerback. I was like 'Wherever you want to put me at, I'll be glad to play.' And when two-a-days started I moved over as my final switch.
That must be quite a challenge for somebody who's never played the position before.
LAR: It is a big transition for me. I've got to have a lot better footwork and be a lot more perfect in my coverage. As a cornerback, you want to hook up one-on-one with a receiver. The coverage and alignments are a little bit different, too. So you have to pick up on that and do it pretty quick.
With all the seniors and leadership on this team, how will it help the Red Raiders push through some struggles that have traditionally dogged this program?
LAR: This team is stocked with a bunch of older guys and you don't have to tell us much. Everybody around here knows how to work and how the coaches expect us to work. Everybody knows we can improve and it will help us a lot over the course of the season.
Tell me what it's like to try to check Michael Crabtree in practice.
LAR: He lines up on the other side from me most of the time. I guess that's good. But if they want to line me up against him, it will be competition. The one-on-one is a receiver's drill. I know because I used to do it myself. But it makes me better as a defensive player.
Do you sometimes wonder how it might have worked out if you had remained at wide receiver for your senior season? (Reed produced 39 receptions in his first three seasons, including a career-best 16 grabs last year)
LAR: Yeah, I wonder about that sometimes, but you can't dwell on it. As long as you get an opportunity to play and compete, I guess it's all turned out for the good.
What is it like to play cornerback, considering you have no previous experience at that position in your football career?
LAR: It's a lot different than anything I've ever done before. I'm a little older and more experienced, so I don't go out there with the 'deer in the headlights look' when they put me out there and have the challenge of stopping a receiver. I'm just enjoying the chance to compete.
I'm pretty comfortable with it because I played safety earlier in my career. I know the defense, but it's a little bit different playing cornerback. I figured it up a little bit faster than I thought I would. It's not as bad as I thought it would be.
What do you think about the coaches giving you the responsibility of starting at your new position so quickly in camp?
LAR: I guess that means they have a lot of confidence and trust in me. They know I can learn fast. I played almost every receiving position on offense. I've got to get into this just as fast with this challenge. It will be a challenge to learn cornerback a little bit quicker, but I have three weeks [until Tech's Aug. 30 opener against Eastern Washington.] It shows how highly they think of me.