More times than not, the physical contact that results from big time football is the cause, but those non-contact injuries seem to show up as well.
Two years ago, Alabama visited Tiger Stadium and LSU junior safety Brandon Taylor went from a back pedal to the turf immediately. A stress fracture in his foot was the result, and true freshman Eric Reid was summoned to the field.
“That was nerve racking, being a freshman and your first game being against Alabama,” Reid said. “I grew up watching this game, but once I got in there, it was a little intense. I played a couple of plays, got to tackle Mark Ingram, and I think I was good after that.”
Reid said he wasn’t nervous prior to kickoff because, “I wasn’t expecting to play,” but his coach had other thoughts.
Freshman Tyrann Mathieu had already played a huge role in the secondary, and another, Tharold Simon was tossed into the deep end as well.
“We’re fortunate. In this program we recruit young guys, safeties, that are capable enough to play as freshmen,” said LSU Head Coach Les Miles. “We prepare them. We train them. We don’t look to redshirt them. When they’re called to play, they play to the responsibility of the position.”
Reid wasted no time making a play.
Midway through the first quarter, Reid read a screen, blew by the block of Alabama’s Julio Jones and slammed Marquis Maze to the deck for a loss.
That afternoon, Reid finished with six tackles as the Tigers went on the upset the No. 6 Crimon Tide. But what looked like a prime time performace turned into an opening act as Reid made the play of the year agaist the Tide in last season’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
In what has become one of the images that will forever live in Tiger lore, Reid skied and wrestled an interception away from Alabama tight end Michael Williams near the goal line to thwart a scoring opportunity and ultimately lead to an overtime win.
When Alabama comes calling, Reid answers.
“When you make those kind of plays, I guess people look to you to make those plays routinely,” said junior defensive End Barkevious Mingo. “He’s one of the guys this defense looks to to make those types of plays.”
Stepping up under the brightest of lights undoubtedly carvs out a leadership role for any players. Now a junior, Reid has learned to embrace that role as the season has progressed.
“He’s just grown into a tremendous leader,” Mingo said. “He’s helping young guys out. He’s just a leader.”
The source of those big plays may be more identifiable by looking to Reid’s past-- high school specifically.
Reid took the field on numerous Friday nights with Eddie Lacy by his side. Lacy chose to play his college football at Alabama, creating a rivalry between great friends.
Reid enters the game with 50 tackles and a pair of interceptions, and Lacy has churned out 596 yards on the ground, making both key cogs in the Top 5 matchup.
“I don’t usually talk trash on the field, by I always do to him,” Reid said. “We joke back and forth on the field. It’ll be fun playing a guy you grew up with.”
Though Reid carries a 2-1 advantage in the win-loss column, Lacy has the one that counted most. The one that yields jewelery.
When the two spent time at Dutchtown High School over the summer, Reid said Lacy didn’t flash the new ring too much.
This week Reid gets another chance at his old friend.
“Just hearing that name and knowing it’s that game and they beat us in the big one, you can’t dwell on that,” Reid said. “You gotta look at this as a fresh new start. If you’re going to get back to the big one you’re going to have to go through them, so that’s what we’re trying to do this year.”