St. Mary's Rashi Reed loves rap music, but not more than rapping an opposing would-be tackler with a helmet or forearm.
The junior running back sings in a rap group called the "3rd Degree," but not this time of year.
"I told my buddy, Leg Gross, who I rap with, that I'm not into rapping in talent shows until after football season," said Reed. "Football comes first."
After playing youth football for the Annapolis All Stars and JV at Annapolis High his freshman year, Reed transferred to St. Mary's last year and saw limited action.
"I waited for my chance to play and my dad said I would have to show what I can do this year because I was going to get my chance," said Reed.
Rashi listened closely because his father, Roger, was also a running back, ran track and played lacrosse at Annapolis High before going onto earn Morgan State Lacrosse Hall of Fame honors.
Now, it's Rashi's turn and while he wears No. 33 rather than his dad's No. 20 "to be original," he knows he has something to live up to and is up to the challenge.
Moments after the Saints (2-1) had dropped a 15-14 decision to rival Severn Saturday, St. Mary's coach Brad Best said, "I'll take Rashi Reed over Dennard Melton any day, and you can print that."
Reed had just run for 181 yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts in the loss to the No. 13 Admirals (3-0), and Melton gained 101 yards on 11 carries, but 78 of those yards came with 3:18 left for the game-winning touchdown.
Severn coach John Beckman said, "I'll take both of them."
Beckman said he was "really impressed" with Reed, but it wouldn't be fair if he or Best had both Melton and Reed.
Melton gained attention last year when he became the first freshman named to the Anne Arundel All-County football first team.
While Melton was getting headlines, Reed was backup (ran for over 200 yards) to All-County back Jason Lilly. Lilly led the Saints in rushing with 1,402 yards, 13 touchdowns and 88 total points.
This season the extraordinarily strong 5-foot-7 and 155-pound Reed is making his mark. In the Saints' first three games, Reed has averaged 9.2 yards per carry with 487 yards on 53 attempts, scoring four touchdowns.
"Our linemen love blocking for Rashi because he hits the hole so quick, is instinctive with great moves and has a big heart," said Best. "In a scrimmage we had with Patterson in preseason, Rashi was stopped by three guys in the backfield, but broke away and I knew then we had something special."
Reed combines speed, quickness and surprising power for his size. He bench-presses nearly 200 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. His energetic style of running includes a nifty spin move and the power to bull ahead that frequently frees him from a crowd.
Reed would appear to be stopped at the line of scrimmage before unleashing a spin or thrust that would carry him and would-be tacklers another three to five yards.
"I just run and things happen, keep my feet moving and don't stop until I hear the whistle," said Reed, a "B" student who hopes to play in college.
"He can definitely play college football," said Best, a former college football assistant before going to St. Mary's. "Maybe not Division I because of his size, but definitely Division II or III.
"He has the right attitude, is very modest and humble, always ready to give his line credit for any success he has."
Reed doesn't ever want to be guilty of wasting the efforts of his linemen.
"They bust their tails for me and are working hard for me, so I have to work just as hard and take advantage of the holes they make for me," said Reed. "If not, I can be replaced."
Reed intends to keep improving to get a shot at the next level, but is not sure where his interests lie. His strengths in math and music may be inherited from his father, who teaches math at Marley Elementary and is a part-time D.J. at WANN radio in
"I haven't really thought about what I would major in, but I do like music," said Reed.