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Following the 2021 season, and with the departures of Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell to the NFL, one of the biggest questions going into spring camp was inevitable. Who is going to replace one of the most impenetrable linebacker duo's in program history? While there's still plenty of time between now and the first kick in Gainesville, the projected starter and leader of the position seems to be sophomore Karene Reid.

A true diamond in the rough, former walk-on Karene Reid was one of the most impressive storylines from the 2021 season. After walking onto the team and shining in the spring game, Reid proved right from the get-go that he can not only play at this level, but that he has the potential to be something special. 

In his first collegiate start and filling in for Sewell who was out with injury, Reid exploded for 15 total tackles, a timely interception and one sack. To log 15 tackles is impressive all on its own, but to do it alongside one of the greatest linebackers in program history, who was taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is on a completely different level. Throughout the remainder of the season, Reid finished with 45 total tackles in 10 games for eighth most on the team.

“It's really humbling,” Reid said. “I came in as a walk-on so there wasn’t a lot of expectations, so for me it was, I want to prove myself every single day and this is where it’s gotten me so far so, I am trying to stick with that formula.”

Transitioning to spring camp, Reid built off of last seasons performance and was noted by multiple coaches as the leader of the linebacker room.

"I would say the leader right now is Karene Reid…First of all, he’s experienced. He had reps last year, not a lot but more than anybody else essentially. He’s extremely smart and his linebacker instincts are exactly what you want at that position," Head Coach Kyle Whittingham said.

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Additionally, not only is Reid leading the room in terms of talent, but he's also emerged as one of the position leaders and is embracing his new role.

"You know I don’t want to leave out a guy like Karene Reid, right, he’s a guy that comes to mind as well. Josh Calvert, Andrew Mata’afa, Hayden Furey, he’s played multiple reps now, so a little bit of some older crew in there that they’re doing a good job. They understand that hey, the voice in the room has left in Devin [Lloyd] and Nephi [Sewell] and somebody’s got to speak up. Andrew’s a very outspoken type of personality, he’s a great young man and so he’s taken that more of a vocal type of role where Karene Reid, you know he’s kind of a little bit quieter, but you get a work horse out of him. So they’re all competing and like I said, they’re doing a great job," Linebackers Coach Colton Swan said.

Not only is Reid an inspiring story of resilience and hard work, but he's also got that x-factor that makes a defender truly special. Similar to Lloyd, Reid has that sixth-sense for the football that allows him to predict how the play is developing and find himself close to or on the end of a stop.

After a humble beginning, Reid is a projected starter and should now have a full season to show what he's really made of.

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