By Tyriq Thompson SMSB Alum / Intern – Staff Writer
Detroit Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School has a long history as a football powerhouse, not only in the city of Detroit, but in the state of Michigan. Detroit King has produced All-Americans, collegiate ball players across all levels, and many have gone on to play in the NFL. With notable alumni like Anthony “Spice” Adams, Ron Johnson, and Avonte Maddox of the Philadelphia Eagles, King has been a center of development for great men.
Adams was one of the first financial supporters of the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy, founded by fellow King alumnus Curtis Blackwell II. Detroit King is truly at the foundation of SMSB, and it continues to come full circle. Detroit King’s football class of 2021 Safety and Penn State commit, Jaylen Reed, is a member of the SMSB E.L.I.T.E. program, and understands the impact that King has on young men.
“I know the long history that King has, helping kids grow into young men,” Reed said. “I appreciate all of my coaches because they’re helping us grow to be successful on and off the field. They push you to go get a degree so you can take care of your family and be great in life.”
Reed had the opportunity to become a starter for the Crusaders his sophomore year of high school. Since then, he has been a leader for his team. The philosophy learned from his coaches at King parallels the life lessons and support Reed receives within the SMSB E.L.I.T.E. program.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of Sound Mind Sound Body,” Reed said. “Coach Blackwell does a great job of giving kids opportunities from all across the state, and teaching us that playing sports doesn’t last forever, and academics will set you up for long-term success in life.” Reed says, the biggest lesson he has learned through the E.L.I.T.E. program is how to be consistent.
“Being consistent is the hardest thing someone can do in life,” Reed said. “Having tutoring every day, coming to the MAC [Mack Athletic Complex] every Sunday, we’re working at being consistent with this to set us up for more success later.”
Reed has already won one state championship at King, and has plans to win one more before he heads to Happy Valley next fall, to play for the Nittany Lions.
Even with one year remaining of high school, Reed has already set goals for his collegiate path at Penn State. “I want to be a team captain, earn my degree, and have a shot to play in the NFL,” Reed said. “I’m going to major in sports management because I still want to be involved with football and sports after I’m done playing. I really want to be a college coach because I love studying the game.”
Reed is entering his senior season of high school, equipped with valuable life-lessons from his experience, coaches and invested mentors. He shared what his message would be to his high school freshman self if he had a chance to talk to him:
“Watch who you hang around. When I was a freshman, I was hanging with the wrong crowd, and I’m not afraid to say that. Surround yourself with people on the same mission as you, with good energy, and be yourself.”