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Five-a-Side: Princeton's Caraun Reid

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - He's called "Chop," but it's not for the reason it might sound like.

In fact, Princeton University defensive tackle Caraun Reid is often the player on the field who most likely would be chopped illegally during a play.

The player whom many scouts consider to be the top senior defensive prospect in the FCS this season is called "Chop" because he wears jersey number 11, and his teammates say it looks like chopped sticks brazen across his 6-foot-2, 305- pound frame.

That he doesn't wear "96" or "98" or some other number befit a hulking down linemen reflects that Reid isn't the typical player.

He's a member of an a cappella group on campus, a singer in a church choir, and the center of any offense's attention as an All-America candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award which honors the FCS defensive player of the year. And he's coming from an Ivy League that doesn't churn out many NFL prospects.

Reid's speed and playmaking skills force opposing offensive lines into double, if not triple, teams. The attention he drew last season helped former teammate Mike Catapano become the Ivy League defensive player of the year. This season, Reid has helped all of the Tigers move into first place in the Ivy standings.

Reid had scholarship offers from the likes of Marshall, Army and Navy coming out of high school in the Bronx, N.Y. He knew he wanted to play in the NFL, but his family stressed education. It wasn't going to get much better than Princeton, either.

Part of Princeton's recruiting class in 2009, Reid was dominant as a defensive end as a freshman. He missed the following season with an injury and then came back as a defensive tackle, still possessing the skills of a rush end, and causing havoc for opponents from inside his line.

His teammate may call him "Chop," but on the field, all Reid is hearing is his No. 11 or name called out because opponents are always trying to get multiple blocks on him. He laughs off the extra attention.

In Five-a-Side - In the FCS Huddle's monthly feature of "five questions, five answers" with an influential person in the FCS - Reid discusses his senior season and how he is preparing for the NFL Draft.

Let's kick off:

TSN: This is has been a big season for both you and Princeton. Can you describe it?

CR: Yeah, the year's been great. Last year, we had some big moments, but this year we really want to build off that. We did a lot of good things on the field last year. This year, we're having some good opportunities and we're doing some great things on the field. Obviously, we have a goal to keep getting better and better.

TSN: You're always getting held, chopped, double-teamed and schemed against. How do you keep a sense of humor amid this while you're contributing to your defense?

CR: It's weird going from the guy who makes plays to really ... I really just try to be as destructive as possible. I like it, I like that sort of challenge. Not only do I have to worry about how they are individually, but also worry about the scheme and seeing how that contributes to our defensive effort. Yeah, I like it. Granted, I would love to have single blocking.

TSN: What skills have you worked on and what are you still working on?

CR: This past offseason, I worked with Chuck Smith (from) Defensive Line Incorporated (in Atlanta). He works with a lot of the top NFL pass rushers, like Geno Atkins (of the Cincinnati Bengals). I knew I wanted to be at that level in terms of my knowledge of the game, my knowledge of pass rushing. So I went down and worked with him. Just worked on position, (getting) off hands and hips, how I'm setting up my pass rushes, how I'm doing as an individual - what I'm looking at, where my eyes are, how to use my hands properly. So I've been working on that, just going back to the fundamentals and making sure I'm mastering my technique, mastering the moves that I have and just building on that and becoming a player with no weaknesses.

TSN: As you head toward the NFL Draft, is there any advantage that you have as a player coming from the Ivy League?

CR: It really just gives me a chip on my shoulder. Just the fact that I'm a small-school prospect. A smart guy, so a lot of people assume that I have other options and that I'm not as committed. So it drives me even more to sort of compete with that on my shoulder to show that I will work harder than anyone else. Yeah, I have a good head on my shoulder, I guess, in terms of having brains and being able to understand things. But if anything, it's the perception of a small-school guy and an Ivy League guy.

TSN: Can you talk about what you have learned about the NFL Draft process from Mike Catapano (Kansas City Chiefs) or anybody else from Princeton?

CR: Knowing Cat's work ethic and just knowing how hard it is ... yeah, the draft is just one step. Part of what Cat was telling me is it's just unbelievable to get there and it's just such an opportunity. All the training even goes up to a higher level than I've ever done before (and) there's nothing guaranteed. Yeah, you can be written in some article as this, but that's not going to guarantee anything, so you just sort of have to eliminate the noise and just work.

11/05 13:24:44 ET