To many, former Penn State linebacker Troy Reeder made a puzzling move last January. After starting 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2015, Reeder transferred to Delaware — an FCS program.
But the Wilmington native doesn’t regret moving back home, as he’s now playing football with younger brother Colby and helping rebuild the Blue Hens’ program.
The team captain joined us for this week’s edition of “Five Questions” to chat about his transfer, Penn State’s current corps of linebackers and his future. Check it out:
Q: It’s not often someone who started and played as often as you did at a school like Penn State transfers to an FCS program. I know you’re playing with your brother down there, but what was the thought process behind your decision?
A: Ultimately, I had to just go with my gut. There are a lot of people who have a brother and played sports with their brother growing up, and as close as we were — I hoped that it never came down to making a tough decision like that. But when it came, that was something we had planned on our whole lives. To me, it was almost a no-brainer. No matter how much competition there is at any level, whether it’s high school, college or professionally, I just know there’s no one that pushes me as hard as my brother does and vice versa. I’m seeing that now. We’re going on a year playing together. I’m in a position now where I’m a solidified player on a really good defense, and there’s still a constant push from someone I know is always going to be on my tail and not going to let me slack off. He’s more accountable than even my closest teammates ever could be. It’s someone connected to you by blood. It’s really indescribable. ... I feel like it’s bringing out the best in me and in him. I couldn’t have expected for it to go as well as it has. It’s really a dream come true.
Q: Penn State’s situation at linebacker got pretty dire last season with Brandon Bell, Nyeem Wartman-White, Jason Cabinda and others getting hurt throughout the season. When that’s happening, what’s going through your head? You were pretty close with those guys, and it seemed like the whole position group went down like dominoes.
A: I reached out and talked to a couple guys. I’m close with a lot of guys on the team still. ... You just know guys are going to step up when the time is right. There are certain guys like Brandon Smith, for instance. From the outside, guys just don’t realize what kind of kid he is. He is really one of the best kids in the program in every level of hard work. Coach (James) Franklin talks a lot about the ultimate teammate, and he is one of those guys. ... Obviously once Brandon and Jason got back, it was good to see those guys back out there doing well.
Q: Former Penn State offensive lineman Noah Beh transferred down to Delaware not too long ago. Were you close with him before the move? You sell him at all on the Blue Hens?
A: Actually, Noah and I roomed together both years that I was at Penn State. We were really good friends — knew each other a little bit but got randomly selected to live in the dorms. We were really close. I personally didn’t sell him on Delaware, but I sold him on what was best for him. Ultimately, I didn’t want to sway him into any kind of decision, just as I wouldn’t with any other good friend of mine. I want them to find out what’s best for them. But as a transfer student-athlete myself, I was able to help guide him in a way. I had an easier route, knowing where I wanted to be. For someone that’s transferring and open to all options — as one of his best friends, I had to talk him through the process. ... I’m happy things have worked out.
Q: Being named one of Delaware’s captains for the upcoming season, how much pride do you take in that?
A: What’s cool is that when I was at Penn State, to Matt Baney and guys like him who grew up in the State College area, Penn State football is all they knew growing up. It meant so much for him to play for a team he grew up (with). That’s kind of how I am with Delaware on a smaller scale. My dad was captain at Delaware in 1984. I grew up around it, and that’s what I knew. Being a part of that then, and now being directly involved, being a captain, that’s an awesome honor for me. I have two years left to get the program going where we need to go.
Q: You mentioned your dad played at Delaware. He also played in the NFL. Is that a goal of yours? And you should know that if you make it to the league, Penn State fans might try to claim you as a product of Linebacker U.
A: I feel myself really developing in a way like it’s taking me to the next level. Being at Penn State, there’s something that brings out a lot in you playing behind a guy like Mike Hull, who was kind of my mentor and took me under his wing and showed me along. That kind of thing is irreplaceable, but now I feel like I’m doing that for my brother. Playing at the next level is the main goal. It’s been a constant drive for me. You know you can’t get complacent. It gives me an extra drive that I finished my freshman season at Penn State as a second-team freshman All-American and now I’m playing at the FCS level. It’s a lot different but, ultimately, the goal is still the same. First and foremost, I want to lead my team at Delaware to hopefully a national championship. Whatever happens from there, hopefully my hard work speaks for itself.