TALLAHASSEE -- Bert Reed could talk some serious trash. He loved doing it, too. Trash talk let the receiver know that he was emotionally invested into the ballgame he was playing, and inside the mind of whoever was lined up against him.
It didn't matter who it was, either. It could have been a teammate in practice, a rival cornerback in a game, or just a regular defensive back on a cupcake team who had no particularly special coverage skills.
Reed's trash talk was indiscriminate.
One day, at a Florida State practice four years ago, his biting words virtually chewed off then-true freshman Xavier Rhodes' eardrums.
"Bert Reed was killing me this practice. And no, he wasn’t quiet about it," Rhodes remembered earlier this week. "Knowing me as a competitor, I kept going at it. Kept going at it. I said, ‘Bert, I’m going to get you.’
"Man, the last time, Bert said, ‘Get out. I need a real corner.’ So when he said that, it hit me in my heart. I took that very seriously."
Reed made a mistake.
But it's one that could wind up having multi-million dollar value.
"I think about a month [later], I came back," Rhodes said. "Bert lined up. I jammed the crap out of Bert. Bert couldn’t even get an inch off the line, and everybody else that came up, I jammed them. Ever since then, I gained confidence. And once I gained confidence, it was a wrap. I was good ever since."
Indeed he has been. As you can see in this Orlando Sentinel story on Rhodes from Wednesday, the now fourth-year junior has been better than good. He's been darn near great. At least, in the eyes of NFL scouts.
If the college football season were to end today and Rhodes were to decide that he didn't want to come back to school for one more year, he could very well be taken late in the first round or early in the second round of the NFL Draft. That's according to NFLDraftScout.com, at least.
At 6-foot-2, the broad-shouldered defender makes pro franchises salivate. His current collegiate opponents are salivating, too, but for a different reason, he said.
"I go into every game thinking there’s a big target on my back," Rhodes said. "And how can people get their name up? It’s going after the person who’s already up at the top; who’s already being spoken of. So if you do that, that’s how you get your name out and that’s how you get better. And people say I’m the best and I feel like I’m the best because I’ve worked so hard for it.
"I mean, the receiver goes into the game like that. He’s thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to expose Xavier Rhodes. I’m going to catch a bomb and catch four touchdowns on him.’ They have to go into that with that confidence, because if they don’t, then I’m going to beat them if they don’t have confidence."
He's right. That's simply confidence; nothing more, nothing less. It's the same thing Reed expressed for the Seminoles before graduating and leaving after last season. After beginning his pro career with the Cleveland Browns, he was picked up recently by the Denver Broncos.
"I go into every game saying they’re going to throw at me nine times and they’re only catching one of them, and it’s going to be for five yards," Rhodes said.
Just thought I'd share that quick story with you.
Below are a few other quotes from Rhodes and a few others that didn't make the cut for the story that was linked up above. This weekend, when No. 14 FSU (6-1, 3-1 ACC) travels to Sun Life Stadium to meet Miami (4-3, 3-1), Rhodes will be getting an opportunity to go back home. He is one of 25 players on the Seminoles roster who calls home the Interstate 95 corridor between Jupiter and the Florida Keys.
Check these out: