Temple used to be Haason Reddick’s only option. Now, the entire NFL could be calling his name come Draft Day.
Reddick has become one of the top linebackers not just for the North Team but of anyone in the Senior Bowl. And he’s doing something most aren’t asked to do. Reddick is playing two positions, inside and outside linebacker, the latter where he played at Temple.
It was the Owls who gave him his first, and really only, opportunity to play college football. He had no offers coming out of school. Heck, even Temple didn’t bother to initially offer him a scholarship.
“I had to walk on,” Reddick told me Tuesday night at the Senior Bowl. “I wasn’t recruited coming out of high school due to injuries. Temple was close to home. They accepted my application and I made the best out of the situation I was in.”
That career, by the way, began at cornerback. He quickly put on weight and made the transition to the defensive line. It took him time to see the field consistently, needing to understand the position and round out his frame. But when he got onto the field, and got that chance, the production quickly followed.
In 2015, he recorded 13 tackles for loss and five sacks. He bettered those numbers the next season, elevating to a whopping 22.5 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Maybe it’s no coincidence those last two years were some of the best Temple has had in a long time, going 10-4 each season and winning the AAC Championship in 2016. He, of course, wasn’t the only one to bolster that defense. In 2015, Reddick stood next to Tyler Matakevich, the 7th round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who climbed his way onto the roster and made an impact on special teams.
That didn’t surprise Reddick, who gushed about Matakevich’s character.
“Ty is a great guy. I still talk to Ty. Actually, I talked to him last week leading up to coming here. He always extends himself to me, giving me insight and whatever knowledge he can pass on. He’s like a big brother to me. I”m just glad he’s open and available.”
Reddick said despite being in the NFL, Matakevich is the same guy who was in college, and a personality everyone should strive to emulate.
“Some guys, when they get to the league, they act big time. He’s not that type of guy. When he had bye weeks, he still came by the facility, checked out the guys. Still the same guy. I’m definitely glad he’s helped me out and I’m proud of him for what he’s doing.”
It’s now Reddick’s chance to get drafted. And after the first couple days of practice, it’s apparent it’s almost certain to go much higher than Matakevich. He’s showcased himself well at inside linebacker, far from his natural spot, but used his rare athleticism and ability to diagnose the play in order to make an impact.
“I think I did pretty well man,” he said about his first day in Mobile. “I made some plays out there. I felt natural at inside linebacker even though I’ve ever played it before. My athleticism and instincts took me to the ball so I felt comfortable.”
That included playing the run, where Reddick made at least two tackles up the middle on Day One. But Phil Savage, the man who runs the Senior Bowl, let him play on the edge as well and he’s flashed, dominating in team and individual sessions. His favorite move uses his best asset, his speed.
“Speed. Dip/rip, maybe a club/rip, get his hands off me and get around the edge and get to the QB.”
His Combine goals are as lofty as his speed is impressive.
“I keep telling people, I want to run a 4.3 man. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
Even if he can’t break the 4.3 barrier, he’ll undoubtedly run one of the best times for his group. Edge players who can run and get after the quarterback are bound to make a lot of money in the league. The Steelers’ needs at the position are obvious and have been talked about since practically Week One. Reddick would be an ideal fit, possibly as high as the 30th pick in the draft.
“I know they have a lot of great athletes. They’re younger now, they used to have a bunch of older guys. They’re getting younger, they got faster linebackers. I think I could fit in their scheme if they were to draft me.”