Common struggles lead to shared success for Usey, ReevesOct 5th, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: sports
When Louisiana College coach Dennis Dunn looks for his “H” receiver on game film, he sometimes has trouble distinguishing whether the man in the slot is starter Justin Usey of Belle Chasse, or oft-used backup Dayne Reeves of Longville, La..
In fact, the coach admits to sometimes referring to the former as Justin Reeves and the latter at Dayne Usey, jokingly of course.
“They’re really the same person and the same player,” Dunn said, “and in my mind they are the unsung heroes of this offense. Very seldom will you hear a peep out of either one of them, but you know that every day they are going to come to work and make plays.”
Just how much do the two academic all-conference performers compare?
Aside from hometown, height and weight, not much.
Both Usey and Reeves came from small South Louisiana towns, both picked up the wide receiver position later in their careers and both have had to bide their time and wait their turn to shine in the loaded receiving corps at LC.
“I spent last year as (All-American receiver) Jordan Rideaux’s backup,” Usey recalled. “It was one of those things where you weren’t going to get a whole lot of playing time. I mean, there’s only one Rideaux.”
While Usey spent his 2009 season backing up an All-American, Reeves spent his sophomore campaign playing behind D-I transfer Brian Jackson, who stood almost a half-foot taller than Reeves’ 5-foot-10 frame and became an all-conference performer as an outside receiver.
Despite their reserve roles, both young men began to get some playing time in 2009, with Reeves catching six passes for 75 yards and one touchdown and Usey catching six passes for 123 yards (an average of 20.5 yards per reception).
That performance, coupled with great offseasons, led Dunn to switch both Usey and Reeves from their original receiving positions to the “H” spot, an inside slot receiver that Dunn calls the key to his offense.
“You almost take them for granted,” Dunn said. “We’ve all become so used to them doing their jobs, that they don’t get the credit they deserve. But they’ve both done a terrific job at ‘H’ receiver, which is what we need because the success of a lot of our plays is based on what they do. If they’re not the primary target, they’re setting up the primary target.”
Through the first two games of 2010, both Usey and Reeves have proven themselves to be up to the job of being the lynchpin of the LC offense.
Usey has caught three passes for 32 yards and one touchdown while Reeves has hauled in six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.
While other receivers have better numbers, the two “H” receivers are just happy to be on the field based on where they began their college careers.
“To be honest, I never saw myself being a starter at the college level,” Reeves said. “I was a quarterback in high school, so when I got here as a freshman I was mostly just confused. At times I didn’t want to be here, but the coaches were always supportive and encouraging. They kept telling me to stick with it and one day I would contribute. I didn’t see how at the time. I was getting slammed on every play. I think I’ve come a long way from my freshman year.”
Usey, who didn’t play receiver until his senior year at Belle Chasse High School, had a similar rocky start to his career.
“When I got here as a freshman there were a lot of time when I asked, ‘Why am I here?’” Usey recalled. “I didn’t think I was good enough to play at this level, but Coach Dunn kept preaching to me to stick with it and one day I’d get into the mix. I’ve seen a tremendous improvement from my senior year in high school to now.”
Not too surprisingly, the shared trials have led both Usey and Reeves to become close friends, which makes sharing snaps a lot easier.
“Oh yeah, we’re real close friends,” Usey said. “We’re always hanging out, either playing video games or watching football or studying … He crashes on my couch a couple nights a week so he can make sure that someone wakes him up for early-morning workouts. Dayne’s one of my closest friends, so I don’t have any problem sharing reps with him. Whatever it takes for us to be successful.”
“You know, before the season, I was like ‘Man, I’m going to have to compete with Usey,’” Reeves said. “Then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t really trying to beat him out. We were both going to get on the field and do our jobs. It doesn’t bother me at all to share time. I know that when Usey’s in there, he’ll get the job done.”