ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Caraun Reid arrived at the group interview session with glasses on, and right away, a reporter asked if he wears them when he plays.
"No. It makes me more aggressive when I don't have clear vision, so I just go without that," Reid said. "I've got to squint like this, so I'm not happy because I can't really see that well."
That exchange summed up Reid's challenge to some degree. Almost immediately after being drafted in the fifth round by the Detroit Lions, the defensive tackle from Princeton was fielding media queries about his SAT score, his hardest class, and his interests off the field. But although Reid comes across as pleasant and mild-mannered when answering questions, it's his more combative side — the one he says shows up when the glasses are off — that may determine his NFL future.
"Obviously, he's a quality student, has been all of his life," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "But he's a guy with some talent too. I mean, he's quick, he's got strength and power."
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound Reid led Princeton to an Ivy League championship last season and became the school's first player drafted in the top five rounds since 1966.
The Lions already have two powerful defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, so they can afford to let Reid develop.
His more immediate impact could come on special teams. Reid blocked seven kicks in his college career.
"A lot of them were just because I saw the guy in front, and I didn't think he was tough, so I would just bull him over and block the kick," Reid said. "It wasn't much finesse. It was heart and intensity."
Reid says he was named after the doctor who delivered him, which seems unusual until he begins telling the story of his birth.
"He did a pretty good job delivering me. I was a pretty big baby, and my mom's not a big woman. They named me 'Caraun' after him — his last name was Carauno, so they just chopped off the 'o.'" Reid said. "I was around 11 pounds, but my mom was like 130. I made it tough."
After contributing 34 tackles as a freshman, Reid missed almost the entire 2010 season with an injury — but after two more impressive college seasons, he took a semester off in the spring of 2013, so he could play as a fifth-year senior this past fall.
At that point, Reid had his sights set firmly on the NFL.
"This is like my only option. I took time off of school and moved my graduation back for a year pretty much just so I could play football and try to play in the NFL," Reid said. "So, I didn't really have a Plan B."
He doesn't need one for now. Reid was invited to the Senior Bowl, becoming the first Ivy Leaguer to play in it since 1980, and he had sacks on back-to-back plays. By the time the draft rolled around, he was fully expecting to be picked at some point — although it was still a special moment when the Lions made their decision final.
"When the phone rang and I looked at the phone, I just froze," Reid said. "I couldn't believe it. It was one of those feelings, I mean, I was waiting for a while and watching the TV and waiting. But when that moment happened, I felt like I was picked first in the draft. I don't know. It's amazing. I'm excited to go to work."
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