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Austin Murphy
September 03, 1990
College football's talent pool is remarkably deep, and the pro scouts know where to mine it
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September 03, 1990

Treasure Hunt

College football's talent pool is remarkably deep, and the pro scouts know where to mine it

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Donahue was cited for unsportsmanlike conduct, though he tried to explain to officials what had happened—the teeth marks on his ring finger being exhibit A. Wyoming scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to tie the Falcons 45-45. On Air Force's final possession, Donahue stripped quarterback Dee Dowis of the ball. Wyoming recovered and kicked the game-winning field goal with one second left. Recalls Donahue, laughing, "The reason the ref wouldn't listen to me when I was trying to show him my finger was because he thought I was flipping him off!"

Donahue's recounting of the story has attracted attention from patrons at other tables. There is a square-dance festival in Laramie this weekend: On this morning, the restaurant is awash in square dancers. "My parents do some square dancing, but I don't," says Donahue. "I'd really like to learn the country swing. It's a little like the Charleston." Right there in his chair, Donahue makes a clumsy attempt at the Charleston. Behind Donahue's back, a couple of waitresses are giggling at him—giggling at the scourge of the WAC! Of course, with Donahue dressed in pink and dancing in his chair, who could know that?


It was pro day at Grambling University this spring, and Jake Reed found himself suddenly and immensely popular. A gaggle of NFL scouts were on the Louisiana campus to appraise 19 seniors-to-be. When it came time to run 40-yard dashes, Reed stepped to the line. "I came out of my stance a little wobbly," he recalls. When he finished, the scouts were staring hard at their stopwatches. "I thought I'd blown it," says Reed. Hardly. He had run a 4.38 and was politely asked to run again. So he ran a 4.39.

Now, your average scout is a jaded, stoic sort. Few things get him excited. But a sub-4.4-second 40 is definitely one of them.

"Before I ran, they didn't have much to say to me," says Reed, the latest and—at 6'4", 215 pounds—largest, in a 28-year succession of outstanding Grambling wingbacks. "Then they all wanted to talk to me." The word on Reed from the bird dogs is unanimous: His senior season should be a springboard to a long, fruitful NFL career. Here are some of the people he won't be dedicating it to.

•The teacher at Newton County (Ga.) High, who told Reed's mother, Patricia, "If Jake goes to college, he'll be back after one semester."

•The college recruiters who shied away from Reed when they saw his SAT scores and suggested that he try a junior college.

•His basketball coach at Newton, who reportedly told one of Reed's football coaches that the kid's grades would keep him out of college, and felt that Reed's work ethic was ordinary at best.

In fact, Reed did not meet the NCAA's academic standards under Prop 48, but rather than lose a year of eligibility, he took out a bank loan and paid for his first year at Grambling himself. And he expects to receive his degree in criminal justice by next summer. "They don't have a test that measures how badly a kid wants to make it in his heart," says Harold Johnson, an assistant football coach at Newton. "If Jake had listened to some of those people, right now he'd be bagging groceries."

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