The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

April 21, 2012

Reed hoping to follow fellow Johnstowners to the NFL

JOHNSTOWN — Antwuan Reed has heard his name mentioned in connection to the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Johnstown High graduate and two-year starter at the University of Pittsburgh might go anywhere from the mid to late rounds. Or, maybe he’ll be undrafted but sign as a free agent with an NFL team looking for help at cornerback.

Reed knows there is nothing more he can do after months of preparation.

The NFL Draft will unfold Thursday to Saturday. Perhaps, Reed’s phone will ring.

“It’s just a waiting game right now,” said Reed, an All Big East second team pick as a senior.

Hometown ties

One certainty is that Reed has had plenty of hometown support and advice from Johnstown-area players who have been through the NFL Draft experience with varying results.

Johnstown graduate Geroy Simon went undrafted in 1997 and didn’t stick with several NFL teams in the next couple years. Since then, Simon has found a home in the Canadian Football League and is 66 yards away from breaking the CFL’s all-time career record of 15,153 receiving yards.

“It was really nerve-wracking. I was projected anywhere from a third round pick to being a free agent,” said Simon, a University of Maryland product who now is a legend with the British Columbia Lions in Vancouver as he prepares for his 14th CFL season. “I just wanted to know where I was going to go, if I was going to get drafted or what team I was going to be with.

“I was in the dark. The days leading up to the draft, I remember Seattle calling me, Charlie Weis calling me when he was with the Jets. Other people called and said they were interested in me. Obviously when draft day came no one drafted me. It was very frustrating. The anticipation and anxiety was high.”

LaRod Stephens-Howling is another Johnstown High graduate who was a question mark on draft day in 2009.

Stephens-Howling eventually went to the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round. Like Reed, Stephens-Howling played collegiately at Pitt.

“It was like a weight lifted off your shoulders,” Stephens-Howling said of hearing his name called in the draft.

“It was a great moment to enjoy with my family. That’s a day you dream of when you first play football, to see your name go across the board when you’re drafted. It’s a great feeling.”

Stephens-Howling was an all-state running back at Johnstown, where he rushed for 4,597 yards. He was Pitt’s starting tailback for two seasons in college, and he finished up as a complement back to star LeSean McCoy.

Now, Stephens-Howling is among the NFL’s top kickoff return men and he’s emerged as a solid running back.

“I told Antwuan that he already did whatever he can control,” Stephens-Howling said. “He had a great season. He did a great job at the Pitt Pro Day. I went down there to see him perform. I told him everything else is up to God.

“I know I was worked up watching (the draft on television),” he added.

“You just have to relax yourself the best you can.”

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