For most highly rated high school football players, the path to college football is simple. Graduate from high school, enroll at the college you chose and begin your career. For new Florida defensive tackle signee Jarran Reed, the path has been much more difficult.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman, graduated from Goldsboro (N.C.) High School in 2011 and attended Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va. After graduating from the prep school, Reed attended East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Mississippi.
Reed originally committed to his home-state North Carolina Tar Heels before switching his commitment to Ole Miss. It wasn't until national signing day that Reed made a final decision to choose the Gators.
Reed said his comfort level with the Florida coaching staff is what ultimately led to his decision to attend Florida.
"I wanted to go somewhere where I felt comfortable, somewhere where I'd like to be," Reed said. "I felt very comfortable with Florida. I felt real comfortable there and I feel like I'm very compatible with the team.
"I love Coach [Will] Muschamp. I know he's going to make me be a better player. Also playing under Coach Muschamp, with him being a defensive coach, he stays fired up about the defense, and that's one thing I love about our defense."
The three-star tackle admits his journey to major college football has been a difficult one, but Reed said his experience helped him grow on and off the field.
"It's been a hard journey but I've learned a lot," he said. "What it took for me to get here made me a better person and a better player and I'm just thankful or the chance that I got to come to Florida."
Reed's mother, Anjanette Reed, has seen her son mature as a person, and said the coaching staffs at each school have contributed to his growth.
"I've seen him grow a lot. Going to Hargrave really help him grow tremendously," Anjanette Reed said. "Our family is really close. My dad, who was killed in 2008, really spent a lot of time with him and helped him try to become the man that he should be.
"Jarran had a great upbringing, but I have seen him grow a lot, especially after attending Hargrave Military Academy, and by leaps and bounds this year at East Mississippi. Not only grow athletically but as an individual, he's grown leaps and bounds. I have to commend the coaching staff of all these places, even his high school coach here at Goldsboro."
Attending Hargrave may have been a blessing in disguise. Most junior college transfers only have two years of eligibility remaining, but by attending a prep school first and only going to EMCC for one year, it will give Reed four years to play three years on the field.
Anjanette said the Florida coaching staff made the Reed family feel very comfortable during the recruiting process, and their relationship with the family was a big factor in her son's decision.
"From the beginning they have treated my family and I with the utmost respect," she said. "They sat us down and talked to us and told us what their intentions were for Jarran. My main concern was that my son would get a college degree, and I wanted them to help Jarran get to the next level because his dream is to get to the NFL.
"Coach Muschamp and also coach Bryant Young, who will be his defensive line coach, and the whole coaching staff, they have been very nice to us. I feel very comfortable with the relationship and about the upcoming time that he will have at the University of Florida. I hope he will be able to contribute and be a name that they will never forget."
Jarran reiterated his mother's thoughts on the Florida staff.
"It was pretty close [between Alabama and Florida]," Reed said. "In the end, it came down to who I thought was more genuine, and Florida has been there the longest. I just felt more comfortable with Florida and my family liked it. I think it's a great decision."
Reed, who had 35 tackles and a sack at EMCC last season, will be reunited with friends and EMCC alumni Darious Cummings and Damien Jacobs. Reed said his friends were excited to hear that he would be attending Florida.
"Oh man, they were pumped," Reed said with a laugh. "They're my boys, we are all back together now. So now we have to go out there and win."
Though it was a long journey for the Reeds, Anjannette said she couldn't have imagined a better path for her son.
"It means everything to me," she said. "It's a dream come true for him and he has worked very hard to make this happen. I'm totally excited for him. Jarran probably went about it the non-traditional way by going to Hargrave first then East Mississippi. I think that was the best path for him. For him to have had that experience first, I think he will be ready for the SEC. He's always wanted to play in the SEC and now he has that opportunity so it's a blessing."