Haason Reddick's road to becoming a Philadelphia Eagle was far from conventional. It's actually an inspiring tale of overcoming huge odds and refusing to back down when the chips were stacked against him. Reddick attended Camden Catholic (N.J.) in ninth grade before transferring to Haddon Heights (N.J.) High School, and it wasn't until his senior year that he stepped on the field in any substantial way.
Even then, it didn't last long.
"Here's a kid who probably had less than 100 high school snaps in his career, so when it came time to put stuff on film, he was really worried. He said, 'I don't have enough (film). No one's going to find me,' said former Haddon Heights High School Head Coach Ralph Schiavo, who was named the school's head football coach prior to Reddick's 12th grade season. "Haason suffered a knee injury and didn't play at all in his junior year, so the first time I saw him was the summer of his senior year. That's when I got the head coaching job.
"I saw him in the weight room and he trained hard. He was obviously well put together. He was a leader for us in the weight room. He was great through the summer on the field and then he was great through our first four games, and then he suffered an injury (leg injury) and he didn't play the rest of the season.
"He was, obviously, an above-average high school football player. We were hoping he would be part of our two-headed monster in the offensive backfield and he was just so much more athletic than a lot of the teams we played. Not all, but a lot of them. I will never forget, in our first game that season I think he touched the ball five times and he scored three touchdowns. He returned a punt, had a run, and caught a screen and turned it into a touchdown. He was a threat on offense.
"And on defense, he was menacing. We probably had him out of position because he played safety for us. I didn't want to get him banged up playing linebacker or defensive end. He roamed in centerfield and he was pretty vicious. He was powerful and he would hit you."
Reddick eventually walked on at Temple University in Philadelphia and came into his own as a senior when he recorded 9.5 quarterback sacks and a nation's best 21.5 tackles for loss. He switched from jersey number 58 to No. 7 prior to the regular season, a coveted honor at Temple awarded to the team's "toughest" players.
"Athletically, you could see something special," Schiavo said. "He just needed a look from a college because he was that impressive as an athlete. Fortunately, he went to Temple and blossomed and really blossomed between then and the NFL Draft, so when he was taken in the first round by Arizona, it was just a thrill for everybody.
"It's exciting. He was a great kid and watching him blossom at Temple, you just knew that if he had a shot, he would do his thing. He's a freak. We all saw that he had ability, he just needed to get great coaching and combine that with his high motor. He played with a lot of emotion, whistle to whistle, and that is no surprise at all."
Take a look at the Eagles' newest free-agent addition, Haason Reddick!