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Penn State Football All 105

Penn State All 105: Jaylen Reed Could be PSU’s ‘Lion’

Jaylen Reed looks on as Penn State gets set to take the field for their matchup at Maryland.

Jaylen Reed has become a fixture for Penn State football’s defense.

Learning from current NFL players Jaquan Brisker and Ji’Ayir Brown, Reed has developed into one of the Big Ten’s better safeties.

Now, he’s entering Year 4. This season, Reed could be in a new role in Penn State’s defensive backfield.

Reed will be the second featured of All 105, a Nittany Sports Series profiling every Penn State player.

Height: 6-feet

Weight: 200 pounds

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan


Before
Penn State: Reed was a three-year letterman at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit. He was a Metro Detroit Dream Team and All-State Selection in 2019. He also helped Martin Luther King to a state championship the year before. Reed, a consensus four-star recruit was the No. 9 overall player in Michigan, the No. 17 safety nationally and the No. 272 overall player from the 2021 Class, according to 247Sports’ Composite Ratings.

2021: Reed appeared in eight games, recording six tackles (four solo) and a quarterback hurry.

2022: Reed played in all 13 games, recording 31 tackles (21 solo) two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry, providing depth in the safety rotation. His best game came against Indiana, where he recorded five tackles and a tackle for loss.

Last year: Reed was a unanimous All-Big Ten honorable mention selection. He started all 13 games, ending the season with 46 tackles (32 solo), a sack, four tackles for loss, a pair of interceptions and a pass breakup. Per Pro Football Focus, Reed played  the fourth most snaps of any Penn State defender and ended the season with a solid 76.2 defensive grade.

Where he stands: Reed has been getting solid playing time for Penn State since late in his freshman season, and this year is expected to be no different. With Keaton Ellis gone after five years at Penn State, there appears to be solid chance that Reed’s the new leader of Penn State’s safeties room, which also features talented players such as KJ Winston and Zakee Wheatley. In a traditional defensive backfield, Reed would likely be Penn State’s starting free safety with KJ Winston holding down the strong side. But first-year defensive coordinator Tom Allen has instituted the “Lion” position.  Not to be confused with QB Tommy Stevens’s old role in the offense, Allen’s “Lion” will be used in a nickel package and is described as a hybrid between corner and safety. Per Allen, Reed is at the top of the list for the “Lion” role. Allen also mentioned corners A.J. Harris, Cam Miller and Zion Tracy as possible factors. With Daequan Hardy departing, Penn State needs somebody to step up at Nickel. Allen is also expected to use three-safety sets, which would likely featured Winston, Reed and Wheatley on the field at the same time.

A quote by Reed: “Just getting to know him, I feel like he’s a great coach.

“I Iove the way he builds relationships with players off the field. The first thing he did when he got here is have a meeting with every single person on the defense. I like things like that.”

“When I first met Coach Allen, I met him in recruiting. He was on me (when he was) at Indiana but when he got here, his first meeting here, it was like I already knew him.” — Reed on new defensive coordinator Tom Allen last month, via Bob Flounders of PennLive.

A quote about Reed: ”We feel like ‘Jay’ (Jaylen) Reed is kind of the guy that’s emerged, you know.”

“It’s a position where, we call it a hybrid, where it’s an athletic type (of) safety, a big corner. “When you think about the way the game’s played in space … it allows you to get a different type of athlete in space. So we use that position and believe in that, but it’s definitely used situationally, based on what we’re seeing. That’s the kind of guy that we’re looking for there and it takes a unique skillset.” — Tom Allen on Reed and Penn State’s new “Lion” position, via Flounders.

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