Oregon Walk-on DL Ready to Wrestle for Husky Playing Time

Brody Reese grew up watching the Washington defense play and he saw a lot of characteristics in Greg Gaines that he would like to emulate.

Brody Reese is a walk-on defensive lineman for the University of Washington, from Hillsboro, Oregon, and maybe better known as one of the nation's top heavyweight wrestlers at the high-school level.

Rather than go elsewhere — and he had smaller-school offers — and rather than spend his college time on a mat, he is will bring his best takedown moves to the Husky football team. He's never once thought about doing anything else.

"I could have have my college paid for," he said, "but I want to complete at the highest level possible."

His motivation?

Reese identifies closely with Greg Gaines, the former UW defensive lineman who now plays for the Los Angeles Rams.

He feels both him and Gaines are similar in that they were either overlooked or underestimated initially as football players.

While Gaines came to the Huskies as a scholarship athlete, he was considered undersized as a Pac-12 lineman. Yet he made that a moot point by his performance.

"I loved watching Gaines," he said. "He was a force in the middle of those great Husky defenses."

At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Reese actually stands a couple of inches taller than Gaines.

He remembers how Gaines was forced to play early as a Husky freshman when Elijah Qualls went down with an injury in 2015.

He recalls how Gaines' face seemed squeezed into a helmet that appeared way too small for him. 

How he immediately anchored the defensive line and started the final six games. 

There's more. 

Reese remembers how the big Husky defender dove for an interception against Stanford as a senior and ran off the field while holding the ball over his head and replays were shown from every angle. 

Husky Stadium was abuzz for two minutes because of Gaines.

"That was insane," Reese said. 

Reese comes to the UW determined to show everyone that he's been greatly overlooked. Misjudged. Downplayed. 

He's not sure why that's happened. It's possible he's not technically sound or strong enough yet for the big programs. 

However, John Garcia of Sports Illustrated All-American sees potential in the Oregon prospect.

"He has a wrestling background and it show with his quickness and pop at the the point of contact, where his upper-body strength enables him to shed blocks at a high clip," Garcia said. "He's equipped to stop the run but has enough suddenness to push the pocket."

Reese had his own interception as a Century High School junior defensive lineman. Double- or triple-teamed that season, he also made 88 tackles, including 29 for loss, of which 7.5 were sacks. 

He noticed that Gaines wore no gloves when he made his interception. He doesn't either.

"I wore gloves once," he said. "I hated it."

Reese, even without a scholarship, can't fully explain it but he just felt wanted by the Huskies. Rated as a 2-star prospect, he turned down offers from Northern Colorado, San Diego and Valparaiso. 

The social-media reception from the school has been nonstop since he announced his UW intentions. 

"I love my coaches, the stadium, the city, my teammates — I love the Husky community," he said.  "They've all really treated me so good."

He'll attempt to be more productive than expected like Gaines. Of course, he'll have to work even harder than his UW role model to get on the field. 

Yet as a wrestler, he's learned how to compete every second and calculate every move he makes. 

"I am a technician," Reese said.  "Washington's player development is second to none.  They're going to help make me into the best player I can be."

He has everything to gain. Just like Gaines.