Nick Reid can empathize with Kansas University football teammate Bill Whittemore. Reid, too, once suffered medial collateral knee damage while playing quarterback.
Today Reid is an outside linebacker, the lone listed starter among the true freshmen on the Jayhawks' roster. A year ago this week, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Reid was the quarterback for Derby High in suburban Wichita.
As a matter of fact, Reid was preparing to play for the first time since suffering a partially torn medial collateral ligament, an injury Whittemore suffered last Saturday at Missouri.
"I don't know if mine was worse than his," Reid said, "but I only had to sit out for two games. I came back for the last game, and really didn't do very good."
Nevertheless, Reid did enough for Derby High during his three years as a quarterback Â he owns the Panthers' career total offense record with 4,171 yards Â to earn a scholarship offer from Kansas Â the only university, he stressed, he really wanted to attend anyway.
"I committed early," he said. "I really like it here. My sister was here and I liked everything about it."
Reid showed up in early August fully expecting either to red-shirt or to be utilized as a reserve quarterback. They even gave him his favorite number.
"I love No. 7," Reid said with a smile. "I've had it forever."
Forevermore it appears Reid will be wearing No. 7 on his jersey while playing linebacker, a position suddenly thrust upon him after starter Banks Floodman went down with a knee injury in the season opener at Iowa State.
"I thought there might be a chance I'd play safety," Reid said, "but never linebacker. I was definitely surprised."
Never say never when you have to stock the shelves with whatever is available. Reid, for example, isn't the only quarterback playing out of position in the Jayhawks' embattled defense. Zach Dyer moved from QB to safety three weeks ago.
When KU coach Mark Mangino announced the move of Reid to outside linebacker, he said it was because Reid projected as an outside linebacker. In other words, Mangino envisions Reid as a 240- or 250-pound menace to future opponents.
This is still now, however, and Reid hasn't been able to produce much poundage while undergoing on-the-job training.
"I'm trying," he said. "I'm trying to eat more, but I haven't put on much, although more of my weight is muscle. I'm trying."
Reid may not have added many pounds, but he has sustained many more bumps and bruises now that he treads in the land where giant offensive linemen roam.
"I'm taking on linemen just about every play," he said. "Some of them are big guys. About once a game somebody gets me good."
That's inevitable for a work in progress. More bumps and bruises are likely on Saturday when the Jayhawks play host to in-state rival Kansas State.
As a native Kansan, Reid would appear to have more stake in the Sunflower Showdown than the non-Kansans on the KU roster. Yet Reid holds no particular animosity toward K-State even though the Wildcats didn't offer him a scholarship.
"It's a in-state team, but personally I have nothing against them," Reid said. "I don't have any real connection except my aunt and uncle went to K-State. But they're converted KU fans now."
Still, Reid is pumped for his first test against the Wildcats.
"I'm excited," he said. "They're a great team. It'll be a real challenge."
KU's stockpile of quarterbacks has thinned considerably with Reid and Dyer now on defense and with Whittemore battling a bad knee.
If worst came to worst, would Reid want to play quarterback again?
"If the coaches told me to, I would," he said. "I'll leave it at that."