After spending a little time convincing his mother, Austin Reed started playing tackle football nine years ago for the St. Augustine Saints, a local Pop Warner team. Cut to 2017 and Austin’s junior year of high school and you’ll find him serving as St. Augustine High School Varsity Quarterback. He’s played both offensive and defensive positions but says, “I love to throw, so when I was asked to play quarterback I realized that I really like the position and I’m good at it.” And his skill should be no surprise; Austin spends two to three hours practicing or playing football games after school each day.
Each of Austin’s weekdays begins with dual-enrollment classes at St. Johns River State College. After leaving the college, he heads to St. Augustine High School for more classes, followed by football practice or a game in the afternoon. In the evenings, Austin makes time for family, studying, and maybe a few video games on his PS4 if he has time. In addition to playing football Austin also plays Long Stick Midfielder on the Yellow Jacket’s Varsity Lacrosse team in the winter.
When Austin is not practicing or studying to keep his 4.3 GPA and honors status, he volunteers as a coach with the Police Athletic League (PAL). Last summer he guided his team of seventh and eighth graders for a win in the week-long flag football tournament.
More than just winning games, Austin’s motivation for practicing is to be the best that he can be. “If you sit around, then nothing is going to happen, and you’re going to fail.” There are a lot of talented football players, so more than just natural skill, hard work is necessary to compete and be successful. Austin’s advice to other young aspiring athletes is to work hard in both the weight room and the classroom. Good grades are critical if you want to play in college.
Russel Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, is a source of inspiration for Austin. Wilson’s coach at North Carolina State told him he would never play in the National Football League due to his size, but then he went on to become a Super Bowl champion. He’s proof for Austin that hard work can pay off, “If you’re ever given a chance to put in work on an off-day, then do it!”
Over his summer vacations, Austin typically attends regional and college football camps. Last summer he attended several camps around the Southeast at schools such as the University of Central Florida, Mercer University, and Samford University. This past February, he attended Nike Football: The Opening Regional Camp, a highly-coveted camp for the elite of high school football players. This summer Austin plans to go to several college camps in preparation for the college career he’ll be starting soon.
Austin is interested in attending a school where first and foremost he can get a scholarship and receive a good education. He’s talked about majoring in Veterinary Medicine. This past fall he made time to shadow with St. Augustine Veterinarian, Dr. Jacob Vencil, the owner of Palencia Pet Clinic.
Austin is looking forward to the Jackets’ next season. His strong efforts both on and off the field are leading him in the direction of his dreams to play football in college.
Photography by Brian Miller