Mikhail Reece DE 6-5 245
Mikhail Reece is a 6’ 5” 245 pound defensive end with an unbelievable work ethic. He is the leader of the Gaither Cowboys defense. He has a 6.0 weighted GPA and is currently battling for an honor that only one student from Gaither class of 2012 will earn; valedictorian.
Head Coach Jason Stokes says that he really does want to be named valedictorian. “He is really competitive in the classroom and is competing right now to be the valedictorian,” Stokes said. “He really takes it serious.”
The Jamaican born defensive end just received his first college offer. It came from Yale, an Ivy League school that would allow him to continue both his academic and athletic career.
Initial word of the scholarship offer came from an unlikely place. Reece didn’t hear it from Yale. He didn’t hear it from any of his coaches. “My friend saw it on Facebook that I had been offered … when he told me I was so surprised and happy,” he said.
Once Reece received official word from Head Coach Jason Stokes the surreal feeling didn’t immediately leave. Reece explained that he was so surprised and that he couldn’t believe it was actually happening to him.
“Mikhail is a great kid. He has a huge heart. He is a great leader,” Stokes said. “He is the daddy of the defense. Everyone plays hard because they don’t want to let him down.”
Born in Jamaica, Reece comes from humble beginnings. Growing up his grandmother always told him that one thing no one can ever take away from him is his education.
“That is why I work hard. A lot of kids are blessed with great minds; a lot of kids have opportunities, but they don’t know how good they are,” he said. Mikhail has a goal. His goal is to go to college for free, on scholarship be it academic or athletic. Seeing limited playing time in 2010 he continued to work on his athleticism and is now in a position to receive many offers according to Coach Stokes. Few high school football players would have had the patience to play a limited role in their junior year, especially when you are blessed with the athletic frame that he has. Reece made 12 tackles and tallied just one sack last year playing in only a series or two per game, if he even played at all he explained.
During my conversation with Coach Stokes he said that Reece is going to keep his recruiting open and visit other schools. He expects this to be the first of many offers. The native Jamaican has ultimate goals of making it to the NFL, but will likely not go to a prolific football school if it is not sound academically. “He does want to go to the league, [NFL] but the league has enough scouts that whether you’re at Yale, or anywhere else they’re going to find you,” Stokes said.
According to Reece he has had conversations with Northwestern, Purdue, Louisville, Iowa State and USF. Reece didn’t say whether he had more interest in a particular team, but did talk about all of those schools having high academic standards. “All of those schools have really high academics too … I really like all of them,” he said.
To me, it really is remarkable how Mikhail is able to manage his time and put forth the effort in the classroom. When I asked him why he wanted to be valedictorian so bad he had a very interesting reason.
“I basically want to be valedictorian so that I can have a full speech at graduation and it would be a great honor,” he said with a laugh. “No one would expect a six-foot-five immigrant to win valedictorian.”
Many things are certain for Reece. He is the type of student, the type of athlete, the type of person that will control his own future. He has shown through his young career that he will battle both on and off the field. He knows how fortunate he is to be given the opportunities that have presented themselves thus far and he hasn’t passed them up.
If his drive, intelligence, leadership, focus, and overall humble attitude is an indication of anything I would expect him to have a huge year on AND off the football field. SEE HILITES HERE
Email Kyle Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org … Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleBennettUT