Bryan Reeves likes to sport a new look before every football game. He says it helps him prepare to compete.
The 20-year-old El Camino College wide receiver shaved his mustache and beard before the Warriors' opener against Ventura. Before last week's game against Taft, the former Carson High all-star got a flattop with a thick line shaved down the side. He also put lines through his right eyebrow by plucking it with tweezers.
"I'm thinking of shaving off all my hair before this week's game," Reeves said before practice Tuesday. "I just like a fresh look before every game."
Reeves' look on the field, however, has a sameness to it. He's always quick, composed and intense.
By the end of the season in mid-November, fans will have seen an array of exotic haircuts and solid performances from Reeves, who transferred to El Camino this fall after a redshirt season at Arizona State University.
"He's done a tremendous job for us so far," said El Camino Coach John Featherstone. "He's a very enthusiastic player and an excellent practice player. His work ethic is tremendous, and he's a tireless individual. He never has a letdown. Even his blocking is impressive."
El Camino's sophomore quarterback, Rod Harvey, says Reeves is a gifted athlete whose vehemence serves as a boost for other players.
"He's always up," Harvey said. "I have a lot of confidence in Bryan because he has a great ability to catch the ball. He runs under the ball very well."
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Reeves, who also returns punts and kickoffs, says his goal this season is to catch at least one touchdown pass in every game. So far he's done that.
In El Camino's 48-26 victory over Ventura College, in which passing accounted for only 174 of the Warriors' 518 yards of offense, Reeves caught one of their two touchdown passes.
In last week's 33-32 victory over visiting Taft, Reeves caught four passes for 178 yards and a touchdown and was named one of the Mission Conference players of the week.
A couple of years ago, Reeves predicted that he'd get this kind of notoriety. But he thought it would happen at a big-time football school, not at a junior college.
On graduating from Carson, Reeves was one of the nation's most sought-after wide receivers. In 1987, his senior year, he had 41 catches for 883 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was all-star quarterback George Malauulu's favorite target on an 11-1 Carson team that reached the City 4-A finals for the second consecutive year. Reeves was one of six Carson players named to The Times' South Bay All-Star Team.
"Bryan is one of the best receivers around," says Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle, who ranks Reeves alongside three former Colt receivers playing in the National Football League: Wesley Walker (New York Jets), Mike Wilson (San Francisco 49ers) and Derek Hill (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Reeves was offered scholarships to practically every college in the Pacific 10 and Big Eight conferences. He took recruiting trips to New Mexico, Alabama and Nebraska before visiting Arizona State.
"I always wanted to go to Arizona State because I remember when I was in 10th grade Arizona State beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl," Reeves said. "They never showed that much interest until the end. I had one more trip left and I was going to Washington State, but ASU called at the last minute and I went there."
Reeves' college career was delayed by an injury he suffered during a high school all-star game in July, 1988. The injury, which tore cartilage in his left knee and required surgery, kept him out during the 1988 season.
After a year of rehabilitation, Reeves was anxious to play again. He enrolled at Arizona State in 1989 and worked out with the football team last spring. But he left at the end of spring practice when Arizona State Coach Larry Marmie told him that he wouldn't play much this fall.
"The guy in front of me was a redshirt freshman, and I feel I was just as good as he is if not better," Reeves said. "I feel I'm good enough and I should be playing. I don't have to sit behind anybody. I just want to play. I want to play pro football, and to do that you have to play college football, not just sit."
Reeves said he also had problems away from football at Arizona State. He partied too much, got bad grades and was involved in a brawl at a fraternity party.
He says the altercation started when a group of white fraternity members yelled racial slurs at him and about 15 other black football players.
"First I was in trouble with my grades, then that big fight," Reeves said. "I guess I didn't make a very good first impression at ASU."
In May, when classes ended at Arizona State, Reeves returned home to Carson and had a talk with Featherstone, who had recruited him as a high school senior.
The coach warned Reeves that he'd have to battle three talented sophomore receivers, Shannon Thompson, Steve Danzy and Marquis Owns, for a starting spot.
At first Reeves hesitated to make the move, but not because of the fierce competition at his position. His family was opposed to the transfer.
"I had talked it over with my mom, and I told her I didn't want to go back," Reeves said. "It was a difficult decision because everyone--my mom, my aunt, my cousins--said it was a step backwards. They thought it was better if I stayed at Arizona and got an education."
Marmie, entering his third year as the Sun Devils' coach, says Reeves is a talented player whose time will eventually come.
"He suffered an injury that really set him back," Marmie said. "It seemed like he never really fully recovered from that enough to get substantial playing time. He felt it was in his best interest to go to a JC to develop, and I feel he's got enough talent to make it."
Featherstone disagrees with Marmie about Reeves' injury. "I've seen no signs of a weak knee," he said. "I think Bryan has one small weakness, and that's that he doesn't have blazing speed. But his speed is good and solid. He's fast enough to beat you deep."
Featherstone says it's too early to completely evaluate Reeves, but he likes what he's seen so far. Especially since Reeves brought along his buddy, running back Anthony Daigle, from Arizona State.
Daigle, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Northern California, was similarly disappointed about playing time. Reeves persuaded Daigle, also a redshirt freshman, to transfer to El Camino. Both athletes live with Reeves' family in Carson.
In the Warriors' opener against Ventura, Daigle scored three touchdowns and rushed for 177 yards on 20 carries. Last week he rushed for two touchdowns.
"They were two very pleasant surprises for us," Featherstone said. "Very pleasant!"
Reeves says he'll play at a four-year college once he's done at El Camino. The communication major would like to attend USC or UCLA so that he can stay in his home area, where off-the-wall hairdos and eyebrow designs aren't so rare.