Rick Fires is a reporter and columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Reed Switches Position To Play For Razorbacks
Arkansas linebacker Jim Ed Reed sits on the bench during the Razorbacks' 38-7 loss to Georgia on Sept. 30, 2000.
SPRINGDALE — Jim Ed Reed began his Arkansas football career as a quarterback and ended it as a linebacker.
2013 Springdale Hall of Fame Banquet
WHEN: Aug. 10
WHERE: Springdale High
Laurie Jones Alfrey
Kelly Whiting Geise
Stacy Kever McGaugh
Jim Ed Reed
That’s what can happen when a college program makes changes and adds coaches with different philosophies. Reed played one year under Danny Ford and his lead recruiter at Arkansas was Rocky Felker, a former option quarterback at Mississippi State. But Reed switched to defense after the Razorbacks added Ken Stephenson and Joe Ferguson as assistant coaches in an effort to open up the offense.
Reed had to add more than 30 pounds while making the transition from a run-option quarterback at Springdale High to a linebacker in the SEC.
“To be honest, I was behind in learning that type of (pro-style) offense,” said Reed, will join 10 others in being inducted into the Springdale Hall of Fame on Aug. 10. “I went to Louis Campbell and told him I wanted to switch to defense and he told me to talk with coach Ford. It happened that quick. One day I was playing quarterback and the next day I was playing linebacker.”
The changes in offensive philosophy didn’t save Ford, who was fired the next season and replaced by Houston Nutt. Reed continued his career as a three-year letterman who contributed at linebacker and on special teams for the Razorbacks. He followed in the footsteps of his dad Tom Reed, who was an offensive lineman for the Razorbacks from 1970-72.
Reed played in the Cotton Bowl when Arkansas beat Texas 27-6 in 2000, and he received the Bruce Mitchell leadership award (toughness) from the Arkansas coaches as a senior. He was also on the field in 1999 when Arkansas beat Tennessee 28-24 after the Razorbacks had lost 28-24 to the Vols the previous year to end an 8-0 start.
“I was very fortunate to play at Springdale High with their great tradition and then go to Arkansas where my dad played,” Reed said. “Even to this day, I get goose bumps when I see the Razorbacks run out of the tunnel at the Broyles Center.”
Reed was an all-around athlete at Springdale, where he played in the East-West All-Star game as a senior. He also played baseball for three years and basketball for one years before he graduated from Springdale in 1996.
“Jim Ed had the bloodlines and he was a good all-around athlete,” said Barry Noblin, who played football with Reed at Springdale. “I saw that pretty early when he was in the fourth grade and ran for about an 86-yard touchdown during Kiwanis Days football.”
Reed lives in Springdale with his wife, Amanda, and their two children, Addison, 5, and Sutton, 2. He’s worked the past 12 years for Aflac Insurance Company.