Aaris Reed knows he can use his charm to get just about whatever he wants. Unfortunately, charm doesn't work on college recruiters.
Reed needed something to get them to look past his being 5 feet 10. Even though he is extremely muscular and powerful, his 190-pound body was a little too small by Division I standards and especially too small to play running back.
So what was it, then, that Reed did to earn scholarship offers from North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Akron and Marshall before choosing the Tar Heels last month?
"Not every player 5-10, 190 pounds is an ACC player," Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "You have to have performance. You have to show well at combines. You have to show well on tape."
There is no blueprint for being recruited because every recruit is different. But Reed realized he wasn't so different from the rest of the nation's running backs pursued by Division I schools. He had to give a perfect presentation every time a coach was looking.
"I had to show my best," Reed said. "At the camps, at the combines, in games."
Reed entered last season with only 13 varsity carries. He knew recruiters were going to use last season to get their first real impression of him. Reed did not disappoint, rushing for 1,276 yards and 17 touchdowns. And he did not run like a typical small back.
"He wasn't scared to drop a shoulder on someone," Zaccarelli said. "He worked hard in the weight room to improve his speed, his agility, his conditioning."
After the season, Reed starred at camps and combines. His most impressive showings weren't on the field but in meetings with college coaches.
"He did a good job with the way he communicated with coaches," Zaccarelli said. "He called them. In this instance, Aaris did a good job of selling himself."
Most teenagers, especially in a pressure-filled setting like speaking with a recruiter, would tense up, speak hesitantly and not give the best impression of themselves. Reed, on the other hand, relished the chance to chat with adults.
"I knew what was on the line, and I was comfortable with it," he said. "They want you to be yourself, and that's who I was going to be. Some people get nervous, but I enjoy it."
In the end, the question wasn't "Can Reed earn a scholarship?" but "How could he not?"
It still hasn't taken the chip off his shoulder, however.
"People look at undersized players and don't think anything of them," he said. "I'm out to prove them wrong."
Said Zaccarelli: "Aaris had a lot to prove because he's still going to be classified as undersized. Still, it gives all undersized guys hope."