Hopkinsville’s Reece Jesse Jr. was selected to our sophomore All-State football team, then the media corp honorably mentioned him for the team not relegated to graduating year (AP). Lots of folks would call both quite the accomplishments and the foundation for having had quite a year. One has to wonder how gaudy of a year of production Jesse would have compiled if his QB, Jay Bland, hadn’t been lost for the year early in the third quarter of the fourth game.
Much is written about this kid’s frame and, after all, what’s not to admire about a 6-3 tall kid with a 77 inch wing-span at the WR position? He’s got tremendous length with which he as the ability to put the DB on his back, extend, and catch a football in a different zip code than a defender. The question which haunts Reece, and every kid with long legs (like Reece), whom we call in the football world “long-striders,” both is, and will continue to be, running or separation speed.
Long-striders, because of the long eloping gate with which they run, never appear to be running as hard, nor as fast, as the short-legged guys. Reece glides across defensive backfields with the grace of a deer. His gait looks as if it doesn’t take any effort. It’s graceful, and because of its graceful appearance, gets mistaken for loafing.
There is ample evidence Reece is “sneaky fast.” For one he has a standing vertical leap of 35 inches, which, as we have before written, directly correlates with running speed. KPGFootball has been told a 35 inch vertical leap correlates with a 40 yard dash speed in the high 4.5s to high-4.6s. Reece, who weighs 173 pounds, power-cleans 225 and squats 350, so taken with his vertical leap, there is just no reason to doubt he runs well. He’s too explosive, both vertically and overall.
Having watched Hopkinsville’s games this past season, KPGFootball saw him gain easy separation and run away from some of the best defensive backs in Western-Kentucky. Exactly none of the DBs we are here referencing have any lingering questions about their speed.
Reece Jesse is a tough jam at the line of scrimmage too. After all, he bench presses 230 pounds and inclines 215. Both of these are phenomenal numbers for a sophomore player at his position.
In 2018, this AP, Honorably Mentioned, All-State football player, averaged 29.79 yards per reception with 16 receptions. While catching 16 balls appears a modest number to some, consider he had to play 8 and one-half games with a receiver at QB who had never before played the position. After Bland went down to injury, Hopkinsville was forced into an offense which both principally and necessarily ran the ball the vast majority of plays. This was good for honing Jesse’s “stalk blocking” skills, but didn’t do much to inflate his receptions.
If you watch Jesse’s highlight film, there are elements which recommend him to college coaches other than his catching the football. Every receiver being recruited to play college football catches the football. Watch how well he gets downfield and “stalk blocks” for the running backs. Watch how well he runs his routes even when not getting targeted. There are things at the receiver position known as “intangibles” and his film shows them.
Let’s revisit this 16 receptions thing for a moment. Remember, Hopkinsville played twelve games and Reece led Class 4A at nearly 30 yards a catch. Now, hypothetically, if you’re a 4A football coach in Kentucky, and KPGFootball offers you a player who will give you 16 plays, over your 12 games, which will average nearly 30 yards per, will you take him? Is the player we are offering in your line-up or on your sideline? He would be in KPGFootball’s line-up, we can’t speak for you.
Here’s a guy whose every play in the downfield passing game is a “big play.” Every thing he catches, at the very least, flips the field for you. At the most, his every play sets the team up for points.
Jesse reminds KPGFootball of a receiver many of you have probably never heard mentioned. Jerry Magee, a famous sports writer who worked for the San Diego Union, once said about this guy…He had an exceptional set of skills…He had this great ability to leap…like he had eyes in the back of his head. The timing of his leap and his ability to pick up and catch the ball was unparalleled. Plus, he was so graceful. He established that football didn’t have to be brutish.
The player he was referencing was NFL Hall of Famer, Lance Alworth. Alworth played collegiately at the University of Arkansas before his career in San Diego for the Chargers. His nickname was Bambi and it came from running back Charlie Flowers, shortly after Alworth arrived in Chargers’ preseason camp, prior to the 1962 football season. Flowers would say about Alworth, He runs and jumps like a deer and he looks so young.
KPGFootball thinks about that reference and reasoning for fashioning one of the most famous nicknames in football history when watching, or even looking at, Reece Jesse. His running gait is an effortless glide similar to the poetic leap of a ballet dancer, or even a deer. The fact he is a “late bloomer” and is still growing, in spite of his 6-3 height and 77 inch wing-span, lend to his appearance a young and boyish charm offset by the awkward and uneasy smile of his introversion.
Like Alworth, he’s graceful and able to leap and pluck footballs from mid-air. Like Alworth, he’s deceptively fast and runs with an easy grace which lulls back-four defenders to sleep, seemingly; all the while masking the fact he’s leaving them in his wake. Like Alworth he both runs and jumps like a deer. Like Alworth, he looks even younger than he is. Like Alworth did, if he’ll keep working at his craft by running crisp routes and working on his hands to keep them nimble and receptive, he too will have a nickname causing this, and other sports writers, to wax eloquently about his attributes and football accomplishments. Not sure what this nickname will be. Though it would be entirely apropos, KPGFootball is afraid Bambi is taken…
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long, reminding all of you ballers out there to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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