ENID, Okla. — Turner Reed almost certainly could be preparing for his first season of college football right now.
Seven months ago, the Chisholm graduate was a havoc-wreaking, two-way lineman; a 5-foot-10, 210-pound battering ram that anchored the interior of the Longhorns' best team in years.
Instead, he's a member of the Army Reserve and in the midst of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks, working toward military certification as a construction diesel mechanic, one 4 a.m.-to-9 p.m. day at a time.
It wasn't exactly a typical decision.
An NCAA figure pins the number of high school football players that get a shot to play with a scholarship at around one in 16. If he'd have pursued recruitment, Reed likely would have been one of them.
"I think there's definitely a place in higher football for a guy like him," Chisholm football coach Joey Reinart told the Enid News & Eagle (http://bit.ly/1qVLUPo).
But following his junior season, Reed, 17 years old when he made it official in November, 2012, enlisted as an army reservist.
His reasons at the time were simple enough, though surprisingly foresighted for a high-schooler: his dad did the same, and he knew it would be a résumé builder later in life.
But the explanations are more profound after almost two years as a military man — a term that started with a figuratively eye-opening drill sergeant berating straight off the bus at Fort Benning in Georgia, and a literally eye-opening one the next morning, sirens and bullhorns jarring awake a bunker of sleeping ensigns.
"I wouldn't change anything," he said. "Everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for everyone."
"Me enlisting must of been part of the plan . I don't wanna be living in America and not have something to do with it. I want to protect it."
Even the first 24 hours of his military career, shouts and horn blasts included, have been similarly romanticized in Reed's own recollection: "It was awesome."
In a fitting twist, Reed's change of perspective — plus having a rigorous run of basic military training under his belt — likely played a large part of what made him a college-level football player.
When he returned for football camp before his senior season but after basic, Reed was a changed person, and would soon after be a changed player.
"You realize how undisciplined you were when you left," said Reed, who'd by then developed a habit of standing at attention with principals and coaches. "I was raised in a good home and treated people with respect, but you don't realize how out of whack you were until you get back."
The new and improved Reed piled up 53 tackles and 8.5 of Chisholm's 23.5 sacks — up from 38 and zero as a junior — and manned an offensive line that helped the Longhorns to 3,790 yards in offense and a 9-2 season, the best by win total in 22 years.
He still thinks about his football career, specifically if it's really over. As a reservist, Reed will have a weekend of required training each month and a longer annual training session, starting in summer 2015. That would leave time for football, if a coach was open to working around a wonky schedule, few reasons being more acceptable than a military requirement.
For now, though, Reed is focused on what's next.
By the end of August, Reed will be back in Enid and will have made the jump from a "fuzzy" to "mosquito wings" to private first class, or the lowest to third-lowest Army rank, for the uninitiated. His Ponca City-based unit isn't likely to be deployed any time soon, though Reed said 'there's always a chance" it will.
If not, he plans to continue to his eight-year military contract as scheduled, earning military certification to work on construction and potentially field vehicles over the last six years of his duty, reaping the benefits of a hard decision: service over football.
Information from: Enid News & Eagle, http://www.enidnews.com