Devonni Reed was a surprise starter on the CMU depth chart going into the 2018 season. Not a lot was known about the redshirt freshman from Belleville HS at the time, other than he was a talented footballer with plenty of potential. The six-foot, 188 lb. defensive back was a selection to the Detroit Free Press Fab 50 list in 2017 and a blue chip prospect in the state of Michigan by the Detroit News. Coach John Bonamego and his staff made the three-star safety a priority in recruiting, and managed to sign him on, despite interest from other MAC schools and Minnesota.
Reed proved the coaching staff’s decision to make him their starting safety right in the season opener against SEC foe Kentucky, introducing himself to the Chippewa faithful with a sensational 14 tackle afternoon, 11 of which were solo, and adding on a 20-yard fumble return just for fun. That performance earned him MAC West Defensive Player of the Week after his first career start. Reed would go on to make 10+ tackles in three other games during the season, including against Big Ten foe Michigan State. Reed fell one tackle short of making that five games (and three games against Power Five teams) with 10+ tackles with a nine-tackle performance against Kansas in the Chips’ home opener.
Reed finished the season second on the team in total tackles (97) and solo tackles (62) with three passes defended and the 20-yard defensive touchdown scored vs. Kentucky in his first full season as both a player and a starter. The numbers are great regardless of the circumstances surrounding the 1-11 season CMU suffered in 2018. The defense saw the field a lot in the 2018 season due to the ineffectiveness of the offense, but these numbers are excellent in showing Reed’s speed and effectiveness in making steady tackles from the safety spot, something he was called upon to do fairly often.
It’s an impressive base expectation to establish for the rising sophomore, as he’ll be thrust into a leadership role going into the 2019 season with a CMU defense expected to replace at least nine of its 11 starters. The defense might not see as much time on the field this season as they did in 2018, thanks to a revamped offense, but that doesn’t mean Reed’s production will slip. If anything, having the full year as a starter will help him be able to improve upon those numbers.
Reed is the latest part in the legacy at the safety spot for CMU, as several former players at his position have graduated into the professional level, including Avery Cunningham, Jahleel Addae and Kavon Frazier.
If last season is any indication, Reed’s name could be joining that list really soon.