Like Father Like Son When it Comes to Montae and Jalen Reagor
Montae Reagor was 21 when his son Jalen was born on Jan. 2, 1999, and just a few months later would become a second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos after earning All-American honors as a defensive tackle for Texas Tech.
It wasn’t very deep into what would become a nine-year NFL career for Montae, that Jalen began emulating his father.
“As a young boy, he has always just wanted to be just like his dad,” said Montae. “I used to walk around with my shirt off and the next thing is he’s taking his shirt off. He kind of modeled me from a young boy and from a young age he always wanted to be the best."
Jalen modeled himself after his dad all right, making it into the NFL as the Eagles’ first-round draft pick last spring.
Montae and Jalen share an extremely close relationship. Father and son talk every day.
“Whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes, every day there’s a conversation,” said Montae. “There has to be. It’s not that I am hovering, it’s that there are things he can talk to me about if there are things he’s going through. That’s why Pops is here.”
On Wednesday night, Montae talked for 30 minutes about the relationship with his son, about the player he knows Jalen will be, and more on the Eagles Brawl podcast with host Conor Myles and I.
Here is a link to the entire podcast:
It’s not an everyday occurrence that a former NFL player raises a son who becomes an NFL player. There are maybe 100 second-generation players that have passed through the league, with the most famous being Archie Manning’s sons, Peyton and Eli, each of them quarterbacks.
Jalen is a receiver; Montae was a defensive tackle.
“He can do it all better than I can,” said Montae. “The only thing he probably can’t do is hit harder. That he’ll never be able to do.”
Exactly what kind of individual Jalen is hasn’t been easy to discover with reporters unable to meet players face to face, and in turn tell a more personal story to the fan base, with restrictions in place due to COVID-19.
To many, he is the player who wears No. 18 on Sunday.
He is seen between the white lines for only a few hours or on a videoconference call maybe once a week. Really, he hasn’t been seen much at all because he’s only played four games after missing five with a thumb injury.
It is a small snapshot, obviously, yet some already believe that the Eagles drafted the wrong receiver, especially with the player taken right after him, Justin Jefferson, on pace for a 1,000-yard season with the Vikings.
“It doesn’t matter what Justin Jefferson is doing,” said Montae. “…I told him you’re Jalen Reagor. That’s Justin Jefferson. I tell him at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
“With Jalen, I drilled it in him, ignore the noise, control what you can and that is how you prepare, how you bounce back from adversity and just realize this is a journey.”
Montae called Jalen’s birth that made him a young father a “gift.”
“That was a life-changing experience,” said Montae about the day his son was born. “It allowed me to have to grow up at a very fast pace, but I’m very grateful for that happening and grateful for the gift that the Good Lord blessed me with in Jalen. I can truly say that he has been a joy to help raise, to kind of mold and make him to the individual that he is today.”
Jalen was, by Montae’s recollection, about 9- or 10-years-old when he said he wanted to try football.
“He would always say, ‘Dad, how do I get to be tall like you, dad I want my hands big like yours, dad I want my feet big like yours, dad can I wear this, dad can I wear that,’ said Montae. “So, at a very young age, he wanted to be just like me.”
Montae went on to have three more children after Jalen: Ryan, Riley, and Raven.
“He’s a big brother and loves his little siblings,” he said. “What people didn’t realize about Jalen is he has one of the biggest hearts. He’s one of the most dedicated kids to whatever he’s doing.”
Jalen was 7 when his dad won a Super Bowl in 2007 with the Colts. As the clock wound down on Indianapolis’s 29-17 win over the Bears, Montae found his son in the stands and brought him onto the field.
“We celebrated that moment together,” he said. “It was full of confetti, I gave him my gloves, it was just full of excitement. It’s one of the most exciting times of my life and his life and it’s long-lasting.”
Montae knew his son had pro potential during his sophomore year of high school.
“I just looked at his skillset, I looked at some of the things that he was doing in high school, some of the plays he was making,” he said. “…All the way through high school I’ve never seen a more competitive kid. It was ridiculous. Sometimes I thought he was crazy, but it was just the passion and love he had for the game of football and he’s always wanted to be great.”
Montae was right.
In April, Jalen became the 21st player overall taken in the draft.
It was a night full of emotion, Montae said, but deep down inside Montae believed it would be the Eagles who would draft his son.
The Eagles were the third and final team Montae played for, spending only one year in Philadelphia. Later, in 2011, he was a summer coaching intern with the Eagles when current head coach Doug Pederson was the quarterback coach.
“I just felt that deep down that Philly (was) the right place,” said Montae. “When it happened, it was just surreal. There was a wave of emotion, of excitement. We just looked at each other afterward, after it was all said and done like, ‘Can you believe this? From where I retired from is where you’re going to start your career.’ I said this is just divine order.”
BECOMING A PRO
It is very clear in those once-a-week at most videoconferences with Jalen that Montae has raised an extremely confident player who should fit in well with Philadelphia’s blue-collar fan base – if the fan base can be patient, not worry about what others in the same draft are doing, and just let it play out for the next few years.
Still just 21, Reagor’s rookie season has been derailed by two injuries, one that cost him reps during training camp, the other that shelved him for five games. Add that time away with an offseason that didn’t include any reps due to the pandemic and that is some valuable time missed.
“Just getting the reps, getting the snaps in practice, getting real-time game plays as well,” said Pederson on Wednesday. “I mean that's hard for any young player to miss that amount of time especially in his first year and then come back. So, these are all things we're working with him and working through with him.
“We're throwing a bunch at him, and he's handled it really well. But just missing those in-game snaps, those practice snaps, working the timing out with (QB) Carson (Wentz), that's a big deal and that's probably the biggest thing that he's missed and probably we missed as an offense in his absence.”
Ironically, the Eagles’ WR coach is Aaron Moorehead, a former teammate of Montae’s.
Moorehead tried to recruit Jalen to Texas A&M when Moorehead was an assistant with the Aggies. Jalen instead chose Texas Christian University, where he turned in plenty of big plays with his speed and athleticism.
It’s just a matter of time before it happens in Philadelphia, Montae said. That time could be coming soon as Reagor steadily returns to full health, and gets more reps with Wentz at practice and in games.
“He is a big play waiting to happen,” said Montae. “…The coaches, not taking anything away from their decision making, they see what I see. His acclimation period is about to be over. They just started him off slow coming off the injury. They know what they have in Jalen…I think this thing’s going to bust wide open.”
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