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'Dreams come true': Eagles' Haason Reddick changed his career path with help of family and hometown ties

EJ Smith, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

Reddick, who has “Weapon for the Philadelphia Eagles” in his Twitter bio, remembers similar instructions.

“When I first started playing, everything was, ‘Get off the ball, run around the guy and try to get the quarterback,’ ” he said. “ ‘That’s all you do.’ ”

The specialized role suited Reddick. By his redshirt senior year, he’d become one of the best defensive linemen in college football and was an unquestioned leader in the locker room. He had 22.5 tackles for losses, 9.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2016.

On the field, he was an athletic marvel who was fast enough to run conditioning drills with the skill position players but strong enough to successfully grapple with offensive linemen who outweighed him by nearly 100 pounds.

In the locker room, he was “Haas,” an upperclassman who balanced a good sense of humor with a certain seriousness about him. People knew not to push his buttons.

“He was the OG of that D-line,” said Kareem Ali, a former Temple defensive back who met Reddick growing up in Camden. “He’s just Haas. If you know Haas, he’s just a funny dude who means business. Haas don’t take nothin’ from nobody.”

 

Unreached expectations

It didn’t matter where he was drafted, Reddick was destined to play in unfamiliar territory in the NFL.

His college production was as a line-of-scrimmage player, but his size precluded him from staying there in the minds of most teams. Aside from quarterback, edge rusher might be the most valuable position in the NFL. Those two spots on the outskirts of the pocket are typically reserved only for the freakiest of the physical freaks.

Reddick ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and jumped 133 inches in the broad jump at the combine, but those weren’t the numbers that disqualified him for the position he’d taken to North Broad. He was about four inches too short and 20 pounds too light for the edge. Instead, he was projected as an off-ball linebacker.

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