MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Motivation isn't hard to find for Jalen Reeves-Maybin. His desire shows up at each camp he attends. It's source? He believes he's overlooked.
Those feelings push Reeves-Maybin constantly. The three-star prospect was a strong performer at the Nike Football Training Camp in Memphis. Six days earlier, he intercepted at least four passes, including three on consecutive series, in a seven-on-seven passing camp in Knoxville.
“I still think I'm overlooked,” Reeves-Maybin said. “Some guys think I'm small. Some guys think I can't run. It doesn't matter. I just come out and show what I can do.”
With 10 scholarship offers, Reeves-Maybin certainly isn't completely overlooked. However, his hometown could have caused a few college recruiters to look elsewhere. Reeves-Maybin doesn't reside in a particularly talented state -- Tennessee. Moreover, he's doesn't live in one of the more talented areas of the state -- Memphis or Nashville. Reeves-Maybin plays football at Clarksville Northeast, about an hour drive northwest from Nashville. That's not a regular stopover for college recruiters.
There could be another factor why Reeves-Maybin makes some recruiters scratch their heads instead of extending an offer. See, his greatest gift may be his biggest curse. At an athletic 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, what position will he play in college? Some college coaches see a linebacker or safety. Others see a tailback or receiver. An option quarterback or tight end have even been discussed.
“I'm an athlete,” he said. “I pride myself in being able to do everything. I feel like I can play any position.”
Prospects have said that before. Yet Reeves-Maybin seems to genuinely mean it.
“I don't care at all,” he said when pressed a bit on the issue of which position he'd prefer to play. “I just love the game. I love to play. I think of myself as a football player. I feel like I could play D-line if I was big enough.”
That probably won't happen, but several recruiters have seen enough to find a place for him. One is Louisville, where Reeves-Maybin's father was a standout basketball player.
“It's good just knowing you have some comfort and everyone will love you,” Reeves-Maybin said. “The fans already love me because they love my dad. It's nice to have that tie but they're still in the same boat as everybody else. It doesn't really give them an edge or anything.”
Tennessee is certainly worth watching as a possible destination. The Volunteers have made Reeves-Maybin a priority with three coaches recruiting him: running backs coach Jay Graham, defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri and cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley. Reeves-Maybin said he'll visit Knoxville this summer.
He said Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Louisville and Cincinnatti are recruiting him the hardest. Reeves-Maybin visited Ole Miss last weekend but isn't sure of any other future destinations other than Knoxville.
“I just kind of go with the flow,” he said.
Reeves-Maybin's impressive, three-interception performance in Knoxville was also evident behind scenes. Jayson Swain, who coaches the Memphis team, said his star pupil made several play calls that helped his team. Yet it was his versatility that most impressed Swain.
“He can do it all,” said Swain, who played receiver for Tennessee from 2003 to 2006. “He can play linebacker. He can play safety. He can play tight end. He can play receiver. … I don't think anybody knows what he's going to play in college, which is a good thing.”
Swain said he was also impressed by his pupil's maturity. That should bode well in recruiting and beyond.
“He just gets it,” Swain said, “as far as picking a school and being one of the top players in the state. He never gets too high or too low. He gets it.”
Sounds like some more college recruiters should get it as well.