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Posted: July 19, 2012 9:45 p.m.

A Grambling great

Jake Reed goes from Newton projects to Hall of Fame

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Jake Reed and his family celebrate his induction into the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame.

Jake Reed is a hall of famer.

He's also a retired NFL star and a former Newton Ram. But more importantly to the former Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints wide receiver, he's a trail blazer.

Reed was joined by 35 of his closest friends and family in Grambling, La. Saturday, where he was inducted into the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame.

Rewind almost 45 years to where it all started for Reed in Covington, more specifically Harristown, where Reed's path started.

Along with his older brother Tim Reed, sisters Peggy and Karen Carter, younger brother Darrell Carter and mother Patricia Carter Jake began his life in a three room house. He stayed in a room equipped with two sets of bunk beds to accommodate all the children in one bedroom, while the house also featured a kitchen and a den until the age of 10.

Patricia Carter then moved her family to the housing projects on West Street to a three-bedroom apartment. That's where Jake Reed, and his brother Darrell Carter, who would go on to have a 13-year NFL career, discovered they were special athletes.

The Reeds and Carters were constantly outside playing football, basketball, baseball or just running around the yard where the entertainment was always affordable for the single-mother led family.

"The lifestyle was fun," Jake Reed said. "We didn't know we were poor. Everybody around us had what they had or what they did not have. We didn't have a Playstation or PS3 or all the different things the kids have now. Everything we did was outside. Everything was baseball, basketball or football. I think that's where I most learned my skills from.

"It was fun. It wasn't like today with kids shooting each other."

The way of life in the Covington projects didn't hinder Jake Reed and Darrell Carter but, instead, made them who they are today - former NFL players.

"I can honestly say coming through the projects and the neighborhood I came up in that me and my brother were not the greatest athletes to come though there," Jake Reed said. "I can name several names of guys in Covington and friends of mine that were better athletes than we were."

Due to the work ethic that Jake Reed developed with constant hours of playing football, those skills stayed with him to Cousins Middle School and then into Newton High School, where he helped make a name for himself among college coaches.

At no time playing football at the youth, middle school, high school or collegiate level did Jake Reed the Newton County resident think he would become Jake Reed the four-time 1,000-yard NFL receiver.

The thought of going to the NFL was never a thought for me or my family," Jake Reed said. "We didn't know anyone that ever made it that far. We didn't know it was possible or what it would take to get to that level."

At the time the Reed/Carter family had trouble even thinking what it would be like to be in college.

After his final season at Newton Jake Reed was looking to follow in his uncle steps and enlist the army. He was receiving plenty of scholarship offers to play football for schools like Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina but his SAT scores weren't good enough to get him into some of the South's biggest universities.

That's when Grambling's Eddie Robinson came knocking on his door.

Patricia Carter was thrilled at the idea of her son going to college and encouraged Jake Reed to do something no one in his family has ever done before.

"One thing she knew was that a college degree could provide a great life for her kid, not working in a plant or mill in Covington," Jake Reed said. "It was just hope from there. That's something we celebrated."

After Jake Reed went off to college so did others in his family, including his brother Darrell Carter, who also found his way into the NFL. Recently, Jake Reed's sister's daughter Destine Gibbs signed a basketball scholarship with USC.

"It's expected now," Jake Reed said. "One of the things I did that started the chance with my family."

Reed not only used his time at Grambling to reach the NFL, being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 1991 draft, but also to earn his bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Jake Reed helped Grambling to 17 wins over his final two seasons in 1989-90, earning a second-team All-SWAC selection in 1989 and a first-team selection in 1990.

During his senior season with the Tigers, he tallied 954 receiving yards.

Those numbers earned him selection in to the school's most prestigious athletic company, where he proudly accepted enshrinement in front of his family and peers.

"It means a lot to be mentioned in the same breath as guys in the hall of fame at Grambling," Jake Reed said. "To get the honor was amazing. It is something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

The former Newton Ram wide receiver lists Saturday's induction as one of the top moments of his life.

"It ranked real high one," Jake Reed said. "One of the reasons it ranked real high was when I looked out at the audience while doing my speech a lot of guys who spoke to us helped get us to the next level. It ranks right up there with my marriage, the NFL draft and my first born.

"It's something I'll never forget and will cherish for the rest of my life."

 

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