March 11, 2022

New REDBLACKS running backs coach no stranger to the CFL run game

Photo of Fred Reid

By Frankie Benvenuti – OSEG Intern

Experience and familiarity, two things the Ottawa REDBLACKS will be getting with their new running backs coach, Fred Reid.

Reid is no stranger to the game of football both on the field as a player and as a coach. The 39-year-old was born in Tampa, Florida and played his college football with the Mississippi State Bulldogs of the NCAA. In four collegiate seasons from 2001 to 2004, Reid rushed for 996 yards and scored two touchdowns.

His calling card, however, was kick returning. When he graduated, he was the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leader in the department. After going undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft, Reid signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was released before the start of the season. After a quick stint playing with the ArenaFootball 2’s Mississippi MudCats, Reid thought his career was over. In a stroke of luck, Reid ran into a former teammate and Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker, Barrin Simpson before the 2007 season.

Simpson called then general manager of the Bombers and current director of pro personnel for the REDBLACKS, Brendan Taman who offered Reid a contract. In his first three seasons with the Blue Bombers, Reid started seeing the ball more frequently, and as a result, saw his production grow year over year. In a game against the BC Lions in 2009, he set the Bombers’ franchise record for most rushing yards in a single game with 260, a record that stands to this day. Reid rushed for 2,350 yards in those first three seasons with 12 touchdowns, but before the start of the 2010 season, the Blue Bombers made a coaching change, hiring Paul LaPolice. Reid had his best statistical season under LaPolice in 2010, rushing for 1,396 yards and six touchdowns but after another productive season on the field in 2011, he was released by the Bombers, signaling the end of his playing days. He closed out his CFL playing career having been named a CFL All-Star in 2010 and a divisional all-star each year from 2008-2010. In five years with the Bombers, Reid had a combined 4,505 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns and remains the sixth-leading rusher in team history.

Reid’s single-game rushing record highlights

Reid had previously shown interest in coaching football, and he would get that chance with Middleton High School in Florida, starting as a running backs coach before becoming the team’s head coach. He carved out a coaching career for himself in Tampa but made the transition back into the CFL when his former teammate Ryan Dinwiddie became the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in 2020. Reid described the decision to accept the role of running backs coach for the Argos as “a no-brainer”, and it’s clear that he had an impact on the team right away.

Despite rushing the fourth-fewest times as a team during the 2021 season, the Argonauts rushed for 1,272 yards and 10 touchdowns, the third-highest mark across the league. Now, a new challenge for Reid. He joins a REDBLACKS team that he already has ties to with LaPolice and Taman, but he brings experience to the table both as a player and coach. He will have the chance to work closely with fan-favourite running back, William Powell who signed back with the club in Free Agency earlier this year. Under coach LaPolice, the running game has always been important. With a new coach and a star in the backfield, look for a heavy dose of the run when the season kicks off June 10th in Winnipeg, a place where Reid has plenty of history.