Interview with Tennessee State University Head Football Coach Rod Reed

Rod Reed enters his ninth season at the helm of the Tennessee State football program after being named head coach on December 18, 2009. He served as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator during the 2009 season.

Reed experienced immediate success as a head coach, leading the Tigers to a win in his debut game, 27-14, over Alabama A&M on Sept. 4, 2010 in the John Merritt Classic. He also broke an eight-game losing streak to Florida A&M, downing the Rattlers, 29-18, in the Atlanta Classic. Reed coached six players to All-OVC Teams including safety Eugene Clifford who also was a Sports Network, Phil Steele and BOXTOROW All-American.

The Tigers increased their win total in their second season under Reed and finished the 2011 season on a hot streak, winning four of their last six games. The stretch included a, 42-40, upset win at No. 19 ranked Tennessee Tech on Oct. 15. Reed produced even more All-OVC players in year two, as seven made postseason squads. Two more defenders garnered All-American honors under Reed’s tutelage in linebacker Rico Council and Joseph Wylie. He also helped Lamar Divens and Sidney Tarver ink NFL contracts.

The Big Blue continued its success in 2012 by rattling off seven straight victories to open the season. The Tigers finished the year with an 8-3 record, its best since 2001. The performance earned TSU HBCU Program of the Year honors by HBCU Huddle. Several players earned postseason accolades including running back Trabis Ward who was named to the College Sports All-American Team after running for 1,460 yards and 15 touchdowns. Three more Tigers were Sheridan All-Americans including Sherman Carter who signed an NFL deal with fellow offensive lineman Rogers Gaines following suit.

Reed turned in his finest season to date in 2013, as the Tigers finished 10-4 and won a FCS Playoff Game for the first time since 1986. It capped an impressive run in which Reed improved his club’s win total by at least two in each of his first four campaigns. TSU won its first HBCU National Championship since 1982 and the team’s shutout win over Butler in the first round of the playoffs was the first victory for the OVC in postseason play in nearly 30 years. A school-record 12 Tigers were chosen to the league’s all-conference teams at seasons end and Kadeem Edwards (143rd) and Demetrius Rhaney (250th) were selected in the NFL Draft.

In 2014, Reed’s defense ranked inside the top-10 for the third straight season. Middle linebacker Nick Thrasher tallied 128 stops on the season, which was sixth-most in a single-season in school history and the highest total for a Tiger since 1991. Thrasher also moved up to second-place in tackles in the TSU record book over the course of the season, finishing with 358. Quarterback Mike German threw for 2,846 yards on the year, helping him break the 34 year old school-mark with 8,664 career yards.

After breaking a streak of three consecutive non-losing seasons in 2015, the Tigers bounced back to finish 7-4 in 2016. TSU reemerged as one of the top teams in the OVC under Reed with nine all-conference players and six All-Americans. The offense led the OVC in points scored and finished second in total offense. Cornerback Ezra Robinson and offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker both earned First Team All-OVC selections, All-American status, and were invited to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The duo also participated in the NFL combine and signed free-agent contracts.

Reed has coached a total of 28 All-Americans and 62 All-OVC Players in his seven seasons as a head coach and has staked a 43-37 record.

He began coaching at TSU in 2003 and served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. At the conclusion of the season in which Reed returned to the TSU sideline, the Tigers led the OVC in total defense for the first time in school history. The defense accomplished the same feat in 2008 finishing at the top of the OVC in total defense.

A keen recruiter as an assistant, Reed was responsible for bringing several notable key players into the TSU program. Reed is noted for recruiting Javarris Williams (2009 seven-round draft pick, Kansas City Chiefs), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2008 first-round draft pick, Arizona Cardinals), Shaun Richardson, Lamar Divens (Baltimore Ravens, 2008) and Cornelius Lewis. He has also coached All-America and professional player, Jamar Landrom (Jacksonville Jaguars).

Reed was a four-year letter winner for the TSU Tigers from 1984 – 1988. He capped off his career by being named Sheridan All-America his senior season. He set the Tiger record for career tackles from his linebacker slot and in 1987, he set the single-season record for tackles with 197. He helped lead the Tigers to the second round of the 1986 Division I-AA playoffs and was selected as Defensive MVP in 1987 and 1988.

Following the completion of his bachelor’s degree, Reed entered the coaching profession. He held positions at Prairie View A&M (Linebackers, 2001), Bethune-Cookman University (Linebackers, 92-95), and Seabreeze High School (DC, 96-00) in Daytona Beach, Fla. Within those positions, he coached five first-team all-conference linebackers and a pair of All-Americans.

Before coming to TSU, Reed previously coached at East Texas Baptist College (00-03) in his hometown of Marshall, Texas. He served as defensive coordinator for East Texas Baptist, which launched its football program during the 2000 season.

The 2002 Texas Baptist defense ranked second in their conference in scoring defense and third in rushing defense. The team did not allow points in either the first or third periods through the first eight games in 2002.

Reed is the son of Robert Reed, Jr., an All-America offensive guard for the Tigers in 1963 and 1964 who later played professionally for the Washington Redskins.

Reed is the university’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative and in 2009 he participated in the NCAA Football Coaches Academy. He and his wife, Tamika, are the parents of four children, Terry, Takara, Briah, and Marcel.