August 12, 2017 10:30:40 PM
Editor's Note: The Dispatch continues its annual look at some of the area's top players. These features will run daily through the start of the prep football regular season Thursday and Friday.
STARKVILLE -- New Hope High School senior Tyran Reed couldn't help but smile about the possibilities as he watched his teammates play Friday night at the New Hope Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
"We are going to be one dangerous offense once everybody gets healthy," Reed said. "You can tell this is a different team from last season. This team wants it more. We have a lot of potential once we get everybody on the field."
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Reed is expected to anchor the backfield from a running back position. He said three major offensive weapons were held out of New Hope's 14-7 victory against Amory to make sure everybody was good to go for the team's season opener Friday at Forest.
"Tyran has worked extremely hard during the offseason," New Hope coach Kris Pickle said. "You want players emotionally invested. You want to see them throw that switch entering their senior season because they know this is their last shot. The colleges are beginning to take notice of him."
A year ago, New Hope finished 6-5 and missed the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A playoffs. A large senior class and the MHSAA's reclassification, which dropped New Hope to Class 4A, has the Trojans expecting bigger things.
"We have a chance at state this year because we have a lot of talent and we have matured more," Reed said. "Last year's seniors were not as focused. This year, we have more players dedicated to football. We have a large group of players who want to play on the next level. That can be a major motivation. We have a lot of confidence that we can have a good season."
New Hope will find
seniors throughout the starting lineup. Kyree Fields will play quarterback, while Memphis commitment Jeremy Tate leads a talented group of receivers. If the game against Amory is any indication, that duo already is working well together. While the New Hope offensive line isn't blessed with a lot of size, Reed feels like athleticism and speed give him a chance to spark the running game.
Last season, Reed ran for 479 yards and seven touchdowns. The pass-happy Trojans averaged 103.8 yards rushing per game.
"Our offense has a chance to be dominant," Reed said. "We have a lot of seniors. It is going to be hard when you start thinking about playing that last game. You just have to keep grinding. That is one thing you can say about a lot of us from last year, we grinded until the end. I think we saw the potential we had last season. That team should have made the playoffs."
Dropping to the Class 4A could give New Hope a better chance at the postseason. Four members of the five-team Region 4 will advance. The path to a region championship will require getting past perennial powers Louisville and Noxubee County.
"There is a lot of competition in 4A," Reed said. "We have a lot of confidence, though. We know we will be tested each week. You have to take the positives from the experiences of last season. When you play teams like Oxford and West Point, you learn from that experience. I think we can put that to good use.
"We can't take anything for granted because 4A will still be tough. However, this will be good for us in the long run because we think we can win a championship."
During the summer, Reed focused on individual and team workouts. His only camp experience came at Mississippi State. The emphasis of those summer workouts involved footwork, speed, and endurance.
"My main focus was on the little things," Reed said. "I worked hard in the weight room. I am not the best guy in the weight room, but I try hard. The guys on this team really spent a lot of time together this summer. Maturity is the main thing. Everybody is in this together. We couldn't lock in last year. The seniors aren't allowing that to happen this season.
"In everything we do, we are focused. We won't have a lack of success because of a lack of effort this season. That's a promise."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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