Robert Reed has been a Kansas football fan about as long as he can remember. Specifically, since he was 5 years old, when he was a fixture at KU home games watching his uncle, David Verser, play wide receiver for the Jayhawks.
"I'd look at him and say, 'That could be me one day.' Now, here I am," said Reed, a receiver in his first year at KU following his transfer from Fort Scott Community College.
Verser, a Kansas City Sumner product, who competed for the Jayhawks from 1977 to 1980, went on to play several seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Now he's in law enforcement in Cincinnati.
He and his nephew have always been close.
"He'd give me T-shirts and hats when I was little," Reed said. "I've still got one of his practice jerseys with 'Verser' on the back."
IT SHOULD COME as no surprise Reed is mighty proud of Uncle David.
"He went to the Super Bowl his first year in the pros," Reed said, noting a pro football career of his own is "in the plan, but I want to get an education first."
"I talked to him yesterday," Reed said recently. "He told me the do's and don'ts of college. He said, 'Go to class, hit the books, don't mess around. Say yes sir and no sir.' He told me to be as good a person as I am an athlete, to shoot for the best and make my own name here."
Reed, a former Kansas City Wyandotte standout, earned juco all-America honors last season after catching 48 passes for 971 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns.
What a lot of people don't realize is he also starred for the Fort Scott basketball team, averaging over than 20 points a game.
"I can jump a little bit, like Darrin Hancock," Reed grinned, referring to the former KU player. "I played against him when he was at Garden City. To me, shooting the three and scoring a touchdown is about the same."
REED ALSO is an accomplished track performer, though he didn't compete in junior college. He has a personal best of 51-8 in the triple jump, 24-10 in the long jump and he's a 6-10 high jumper.
One gets the feeling he wouldn't mind participating in football, basketball and track at KU, if given the chance. He, in fact, noted that he received basketball recruiting letters from KU, Virginia and Oklahoma State during his senior season at Wyandotte. He didn't receive any basketball letters last year, however.
"If I could do it, yes," he said. "Lord willing, if I was able to do it, I'd do it."
Reed proved his loyalty to football last year at Fort Scott. He quit the basketball team second semester to concentrate on his academics.
"I'M THE ONLY student in history to pass 20 hours in one semester," he said, grinning. "I had to catch up after dropping a couple classes first semester. It was tough, but I made it."
Now he's out to make it at KU, though he knows the transition from juco ball to major college will be difficult.
"The difference between Wyandotte and Fort Scott was like from dawn to noon. The difference from Fort Scott to here is like noon to night," he said.
Deep down, he's hoping to play as well as his uncle did here. If he does, he'll impress his own nephew, Kiki, who, coincidentally, is 5 years old and will watch Reed play this season.
"Yeah, we're close. He kind of looks up to me," he said.