Just over a year ago, senior defensive lineman Caraun Reid made a bold decision: He would withdraw from his spring semester at Princeton, put his aspirations of playing in the NFL on hold and return in the fall for a redshirted fifth season. The potential rewards of his choice were clear but so were the risks: 10 more football games could drastically improve his draft prospects, but a letdown season or a crushing injury could dash his hopes of playing professional football.
Looking back, Reid has no reason to second-guess his thought process. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound senior led his team to an 8-2 (6-1 Ivy) season and its first Ivy League Championship since 2006. The final record was the best Reid has seen in his five years and capped off the impressive turnaround he and his squad engineered after suffering through consecutive 1-9 schedules just two years ago. His 5.5 sacks during conference play earned him his third first-team All-Ivy selection, his second All-America selection and his first FCS Defensive Player of the Year award from College Sports Journal.
Reid’s scintillating final season also earned him an invitation as the second Princeton football player in history to compete in the Senior Bowl. Reid traveled to Mobile, Ala., where he practiced with some of the nation’s top college football players before competing in a North vs. South showdown on Jan. 25. The Bronx native capitalized on the opportunity by recording a pair of devastating sacks on back-to-back plays, securing a feature on NFL.com’s postgame recap as one of just five “buzz-worthy” players.
Following his impressive performance in Alabama, Reid received an invitation to the annual NFL Scouting Combine to showcase his skills in front of NFL scouts. The senior will travel to Indianapolis, where he will compete with 21 other defensive linemen on Feb. 24. Like all of the 300+ participants at the camp, Reid will record scores in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and shuttle run before completing additional, position-specific drills.
His test results in Indianapolis could have a significant impact on his stock as a draftable NFL prospect, but Reid’s accolades thus far have already begun turning heads. As of Feb. 10, DraftCountdown.com projects Reid will be the 11th defensive tackle selected this year and the 118th player overall. Reid would become the second Princeton player to become drafted in two years, following the precedent set by his former teammate Mike Catapano ’13, who earned a seventh-round draft pick and significant playing time during the Kansas City Chiefs’ regular and postseason.
Reid’s accomplishments have arguably placed him ahead of where Catapano found himself at this time last year — Catapano did not receive a Combine invitation and competed only in a Princeton Pro Day. Still, a chance to perform at the Combine is no guarantee of professional success. Just as he did with his risky decision to play a fifth college season, Reid will have to capitalize on this opportunity in order to sustain his rapidly growing reputation as an elite NFL candidate.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article included a photograph of a player that was not Caraun Reid ’14. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error.