BOISE — It was an innocent first question, with an unexpected answer.
When junior cornerback Markel Reed met with the media Friday for the first time this spring, the first question was a standard one about how the first week of spring practice has gone so far.
“Right now I’m on the sideline,” Reed said. “I’m not really active right now. But I’m watching the guys compete every single day. They are grinding it out and it’s just a different vibe around here right now. I plan on getting back out there really soon to bond with my guys.”
The obvious follow-up question was to ask if Reed was out because of an injury.
“Yes sir,” Reed said. “I had tore my labrum and I had surgery in January. The rehab is going very well. I’m getting encouragement by my teammates every day. Them motivating me helps me motivate myself. Things are going in an upward, positive way right now.”
Reed is expected to be a leading candidate to take over one of the two starting spots at cornerback with both Avery Williams and Jalen Walker no longer around. Spring practices would have been a golden chance for him to take a leg up in that competition.
The injury news was somewhat surprising because it hadn’t been previously known that Reed was hurt. It also was unexpected because injured players typically weren’t made available to the media under previous coach Bryan Harsin.
New coach Andy Avalos has allowed several players out this spring to still do media interviews.
Reed played in all seven games last season and made one start. He’s played in 17 games the past two seasons since debuting as a true freshman in 2019.
But as it turns out, he played most of those games while dealing with an injured shoulder.
“I tore my labrum my freshman year and I played through it my freshman year and then played through it my sophomore year,” Reed said. “But it got worse so I had to go ahead and get that surgery done going into this year so I could play at my best level.
“It was hurting and it was limiting my abilities to play football. I was playing through it, trying to have my teammates back. We were going into a championship game, I can’t bail out of that, so I played through it. My shoulder would come out about four times a game, but I fought through it and I didn’t regret it either.”
Reed was a three-star recruit coming out of Temple (High) Texas in 2019. He earned immediate playing time that fall just months after arriving on campus. His talent is obvious, but Reed was stuck behind two All-Mountain West performers in Williams and Walker so he was mostly limited to a reserve role.
While he waited for his chance in the spotlight, Reed did two valuable things: watch and learn. Reed said he soaked up as much information as possible from both Williams and Walker, knowing his day would eventually come.
“They left a standard for me and the corners in the corners room to step up to,” Reed said. “With Avery being an All-American and Jalen being all-conference, there’s a standard around here at Boise State. Me and the DBs, all of us, we plan on attacking that and raising the standard even higher.”
That mindset could soon pay off. While he’s out all spring as he rehabs the shoulder, Reed said he’s expected to be fully recovered and available for the start of fall camp in early August.
His chance has finally come. And he plans to be ready.
“It’s motivating for me and it’s motivating for the guys in the room,” Reed said. “Both spots are open. No spots are guaranteed. And I love competing so that’s what we’re going to do.”