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Area native is having grand time
By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published May 26, 2005
TAMPA - Rookie running back Fred Reid knows his work is cut out to make the Bucs, but right now, the former King High standout is living a dream.
"I always loved the Bucs growing up," he said after Wednesday's full-squad workouts. "I never thought I'd be playing for them one day. I feel like I'm in the perfect spot. I love the coaches, the players, everything."
Reid, a four-year letterman at Mississippi State, was signed as an undrafted free agent. The former Times All-Suncoast Player of the Year, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound change-of-pace back, rushed for 996 yards and caught 44 passes for 318 yards in 45 games. He also returned kickoffs.
The Bucs are looking at him at running back and on special teams, both as a return man and gunner. "I'm learning," Reid said. "I'm getting better every day. It's good for the young guys to come in before training camp so when you come to training camp you're familiar with the system."
PROVING GROUND: Despite his experience, veteran receiver Ike Hilliard isn't taking anything for granted.
The former Gators star, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Giants before signing a one-year deal, said he doesn't expect to be handed a starting spot. "That's up to Coach ( Jon) Gruden and the way I perform in training camp," Hilliard said. "I'm looking forward to hopefully finishing my career here, but if I don't play well, there are 12 guys in camp at receiver."
Thus far, things are going well.
Hilliard still is getting acclimated to his new environment, meeting everybody and learning the playbook, but he isn't exactly lost. During two seasons with the Giants, the team ran an offense similar to Gruden's under offensive coordinator Sean Payton.
"That's when I had most of my success," Hilliard said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Rookie offensive tackle Chris Colmer, a native of Port Jefferson, N.Y., flipped through his high school yearbook recently and was surprised by what he found: There were pictures of him wearing a Bucs hat. ... Hilliard has been joined in Tampa by his wife, Lourdes, a recent law school graduate. They will continue to live in Miami with their two children during the offseason. ... Although most of his family resides in east Tampa, Reid is staying at a local Marriott. "There's a lot more space for me," he said.