Whether it’s video games or computer programing or playing football, Penn State’s John Reid wants to be the best that he can be.
That’s why he puts the time into whichever passion he’s pursuing.
“It’s just like anything,” Reid said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. “You put the time into it, and then it all ends up working out if you work hard enough. It’s kind of the approach I took. With football, I’m just used to putting in a ton of hours to do stuff. If I want to be good at something, I want to be good at it, period. I don’t expect anything less, so I kind of put the time in.”
And he is good. He was good enough at programming to earn an internship with Intel in Portland, Oregon, in 2017 working in it’s data center engineering group.
This summer he combined programming and video games in an eight-weeks internship at Blizzard Entertainment, a video game developer based in Irvine, California. Reid said Blizzard accepted 70 interns out of thousands that applied.
Reid has been a video game addict for years. He’s pulled teammates like Cam Brown and Shaka Toney into Apex Legends and as a team the trio has been tough to beat.
“We’ve got the best squad,” Reid said. “When we play Apex, it’s a guaranteed ‘W.’
Reid was a solid cornerback for coach James Franklin last season as a redshirt junior. His first junior season in 2017 came to a screeching halt when he was injured in the opening game. It was tough to take, but it did open up other opportunities.
“Being hurt, it’s kind of always hard to find the positives,” Reid said. “I guess the biggest thing was it gave me a different perspective on certain things involving football. And then I think I got the opportunity to go out to Intel the year I was hurt.”
Reid bounced back last season to record 24 tackles with two interceptions for the Nittany Lions. He was named honorable-mention All-Big Ten after last season and was a nominee for the Mayo Clinic comeback player of the year award.
But he still wasn’t as good as he could have been, especially early in the season.
“The hesitation last year mainly was coming from not playing football for a year,” Reid said. “A lot of people thought the hesitation was because of the injury. The hesitation was because usually I’m used to being able to get into a game and pick up on the flow right away.
“After the first possession, I’m very familiar with the receiver. Last year it took me longer to figure out receivers in a game. It caused me to second guess things I was doing.”
And he didn’t tackle the way he wanted either.
“It really frustrates me because I have times I really explode through a tackle,” Reid said. “And then I’ll have times when I just totally miss it, and it’s really frustrating because it’s one of those things you work really hard at in practice and you don’t get the results that you want.
“That’s just something I continue to work on and improve on. I think people are going to see a big difference this year.”
Now the injury is more or less behind him, but Reid hasn’t forgotten it.
“The injury was something out of my control,” Reid said. “It was kind of like a freak accident. You can’t really control it. I’m just happy with where I am now. Dealing with injuries like that, you never know how it’s going to turn out. I’m just blessed to be here and I’m back playing football the way I want to play it. Everything came back to where I was at.”
At some point, Reid’s football career will come to a close. When that happens, he said he’ll likely go into computer programming.
Reid said his math skills were not up to where they needed to be when he got to college, but that didn’t stop him from writing computer codes.
“You can teach yourself to code,” Reid said. “You don’t really need a classroom, so you just apply yourself out of class to learn it. I can do that with a lot of things.”
Wherever his future leads him, Reid is going to do his best to take advantage of any opportunities that come his way.
“A lot of people don’t get this opportunity, especially my family and the people I grew up around,” Reid said. “I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.