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From Greentown to Greenville: Eastern senior commits to play D1 football

Makhai Reed is eager to perform on the biggest stage at Furman University

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COMMITTED — Although the pandemic compromised some of Makhai Reed's talks with D1 schools, he said Furman University will be a great place to call his next home. Reed played on both sides of the ball and will be a tough leader to replace on the Comets.

After a nearly-perfect 10-1 season this past year, one defensive product from the Eastern Comets has committed to bigger and better things and will move on to a Division I school in the fall.

Makhai Reed announced he will attend Furman University to play football and is excited to move to Greenville, S.C., to play at the next level. Though the pandemic took a toll on his recruiting and interrupted conversations with other D1 schools, Reed decided Furman University was a natural fit.

“I kind of was just playing my cards, and I sent out some emails to some coaches. And Furman actually got back with me. I went down for a visit, and I really liked the school. I fell in love with it. The facilities were awesome, and their biology and health and science program was top-tier. That’s what I want to do,” Reed said. “My faith had a lot to do with my decision. There was actually a time period where I was like, ‘Do I even want to play football?’ I felt like God was just telling me to hold out, and I did. And my cards lined up with Furman.”

Reed notched 80 tackles his junior year and 60 his senior year, with 12 tackles for loss. He also recorded four forced fumbles and an interception his senior year with two forced fumbles as a junior. Reed said he took pride in the fact offenses would run the ball away from his direction, adding to the list of intangibles that made him a D1 player.

He often played offense also and averaged 12.8 yards per carry when given the ball. His senior year, he embraced a leadership role alongside his other senior friends and said it was his most fun year.

“We started playing together since like, sixth grade, and being able to cap it off with just a good season was very fun. I think at the top of our list,” Reed said.

The culture in the locker room gave him the tools to become the player he was, he said. Relying on his teammates was essential, and trusting the process and growing with the Comets came naturally to him.

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“A lot of us are unselfish. I was probably one of the better football players on my team, and my name was never in the newspaper. But to me, it was just about doing my job and relying on my other teammates. I think when you build that trust, everybody starts to succeed,” Reed said. “The coaches obviously have a huge impact. I think every coach pushed me even when I’d make a play in practice, and my technique was off. They’d still correct me and hold me accountable. That was big in our success this year.”

His favorite memory as a Comet, if he had to choose one, was beating Lapel his junior year on a last-second touchdown. Lapel just had scored, and Reed looked over at his teammate, Zane Downing, and said, “I think we may have just lost.” Lapel then kicked a 25-yard kick-off that Eastern returned for a touchdown as the buzzer went off. It was a picture-perfect high school moment, he said.

Reed said his conversations with Ken Lamendola, inside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Furman University, led him to believe he’ll be allowed to contribute immediately, he said.

Reed was undersized from sixth grade to his sophomore year, he said, and one to two years younger than everyone in his grade. It’s always been a dream of his to play D1 football, but he said he never quite got a gauge of how good he was as a player until his upperclassman years.

Junior year was a breakout year for him, and he got the starting nod before the season began. After a shaky first game, Reed felt comfortable in the system and began to flourish, he said. After gaining that confidence, that dream started to become possible.

He’ll be bummed to leave his friends and the area he’s always lived in, but he said he’s anxious to get to Furman University and contribute on the field.

“It’s bittersweet, but I think I’m ready for the jump,” Reed said.