The Tennessee Titans signed several undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft. I’m about to embark on an interview series with as many of them as I can. At least one of these players is going to make the roster. Enjoy!
Former Florida, Youngstown State and Virginia Tech outside linebacker Justus Reed is one of those players. Reed comes in at 6-foot-3 and 253 pounds. He compiled an impressive 25.5 sacks in 41 career games at the college level.
Reed recently spoke exclusively with Broadway Sports about how he formed a relationship with the Titans throughout the pre-draft process, what he brings to the table, and which of his teammates he can’t wait to meet in person.
JM: What was draft weekend like for you?
JR: It was stressful. You never know when that phone call is going to come. You’re just waiting to find out where you’re gonna go. It was exciting, but there are some mixed emotions there. You’re nervous and a little stressed out as well. The entire process was a blessing, though. I didn’t get drafted, but I’m now in a situation where I have a chance to make the team. That’s all I could really ask for. I’m happy for the opportunity.
JM: Speaking of that opportunity, how did it come about with the Titans?
JR: They made me one of their top priorities after the draft. I had spoken with them quite a bit throughout the process. They told me that I was on their draft board. I had some good conversations with the head coach, defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. They were happy to get me in free agency.
JM: That’s great. I’m going to ask for a bit more detail on your meetings with them. You said you met with Mike Vrabel, Shane Bowen and Ryan Crow. You had multiple meetings with those members of the coaching staff?
JR: I had a Zoom meeting with coach Ryan Crow. I spoke with a bunch of coaches from a bunch of teams throughout this process. I had a really good phone call with coach Vrabel. I never met with him via Zoom, but we had a great, long conversation via telephone. We spoke on the phone more than once.
JM: That’s terrific. You spoke with several teams and had offers to sign elsewhere. Why did you choose Tennessee?
JR: I felt like they presented me with the best opportunity. I really liked coach Vrabel and coach Crow. They stuck out to me. They seem like great coaches to play for. I felt like everything fit. We had some great meetings and I felt like they made me a priority. I’m gonna be well coached. I’m gonna have an opportunity to make the team. I thought the fit was perfect.
JM: You started 10 games and recorded 6.5 sacks at Virginia Tech in 2020. It was your lone season there. You had yourself a nice year. How do you look back on it?
JR: I feel like I put together a decent season. I expected a lot more of myself, though. Nobody demands more from me than myself. I was happy with how I played all things considered. I walked into a new situation at Virginia Tech. I was only there for four and a half months. I had to get used to a new coaching staff. I was playing in a different scheme. All things considered, I did a good job. I showed that I could adapt. I put my best foot forward. I arrived at my new destination just three weeks before camp started. I had to hit the ground running. I was at Virginia Tech for the most important season of my life after spending several years at Youngstown State. I’m happy with the season I put together.
JM: You came to Virginia Tech as a grad transfer after spending a few years at Youngstown State as you said. You had 13.0 sacks in 2019. You actually started your career at Florida under Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain. You attended three different schools. This has been quite the journey for you.
JR: It’s been a long journey for me. I was in college for seven years. I had a couple of injuries but the past two seasons were a blessing for me. I was healthy and productive in 2019 at Youngstown State. I was healthy and productive in 2020 at Virginia Tech. I’ve taken really good care of my body over the past two years. I feel like I finally figured out what works best for me. I’m eating all the right things. I hit the weight room. I’m trying to stay healthy for the rest of my career. Everybody’s journey to the league is different, and mine has been very unique. I’ve been through a lot of adversity. I had to fight through some things. I’m blessed to be in this position.
JM: The sack numbers really jump off the page. You totaled 19.5 sacks over the past two years at two different programs. Those are some excellent numbers. What can you tell me about your pass rush arsenal?
JR: I feel like I have a balanced and diverse arsenal. I love converting speed to power. I have some nice speed off the edge. I’m really good with my hands. I always have room to grow, but I’m happy with where my technique is at right now. I use my body well. I play with great leverage. I have long arms and I know how to use them. My dad played linebacker in college. It runs in the family. I have some natural ability there.
JM: What’s your favorite part of playing the outside linebacker position?
JR: I love setting a hard edge. That’s something I take a lot of pride in. I did that at Youngstown State. I did it at Virginia Tech, too. We made sure that we set the edge and had everything flowing to the outside. I love rushing the quarterback, but I always wanted to be a three-down player. I have to stop the run just as well as I rush the passer. I can drop in coverage as well. I want to be known as an all-around player. I take pride in setting a hard edge and stopping the run. I can’t just be a pass rusher.
JM: We love hearing that. I don’t know how well you know the Titans roster, but is there one player you can’t wait to practice against or learn from?
JR: I’m eager to learn from Bud Dupree. I’ve watched a lot of his film. He’s been a dominant player in this league for a long time. He’s one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. It would be great to chat with him and pick his brain a little bit. I want to hear what he does and how he does it. He moves so well. I’m going to learn from how he conducts himself on the field.
JM: That’s a great choice. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what are your goals and aspirations for these next few months as you try to make the Titans roster?
JR: I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I’m gonna go out there and do my best. I’m gonna give this everything I have. I’m an effort player with a ton of hustle. My motor is always running hot. That’s not gonna change when I get to the next level. I’m gonna be the same hustle and effort player I’ve always been. I’m excited to showcase what I can do as I try to make the roster in a few months.