High School homecomings usually happen in the fall when the leaves are turning orange and football season is in full swing. For D.J. Reed, 22, a special one came in April.
Reed, a second-year 49ers defensive back had a touching homecoming and reunion with fellow Independence High alum Tyler Schilhabel.
Pretty cool moment today. Interviewing @tschaub8 about @D7_Reed. The two hadn't seen each other in years. Then, boom, in walks Reed and here is there first conversation before the @49ers defensive back went to talk to Schilhabel's team at their alma mater at @IHSFalcons. pic.twitter.com/DNTu6z1yEX— Trevor Horn (@trevhorn) April 8, 2019
“It was great to be able to see each other after that long gap,” Schilhabel said. “Having him speak to the entire student body was awesome. I definitely want to have him back to talk to the football team one-on-one.”
Schilhabel spoke very highly of Reed’s message which is something that he has tried to exemplify and share with his team as well.
“He told them to not let other people determine their worth,” Schilhabel said. “You have to determine your own worth and what you’re capable of doing. Don’t let it stop you from reaching your goals.”
This is not the first time that either of the two Bakersfield products have operated outside the norm. In 2010 during his junior year, Schilhabel was the quarterback of the football team. He was involved in an ATV accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Through his recovery the high school quarterback became acquainted with then Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, soon after their meeting, became head coach of the 49ers and Schilhabel found himself on the sidelines during a game.
Flash forward to 2018 when after graduating from Utah, Schilhabel was named head coach of the Independence High football team where Reed also excelled.
Reed’s path to the NFL has also been unconventional. After he red-shirted his first season at Fresno State, he chose to transfer to Cerritos College to go the junior college route. He played well enough to get the chance to show what he could do at Kansas State, where he finished his college career.
The 49ers selected Reed in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He finished his first season playing in 15 games primarily as a kick returner, but was also on the field with the defense towards the end of the year.
Reed returned 11 kickoffs for 332 yards giving him an average of 30.2 yards per return. On defense he tallied one quarterback sack, one forced fumble and 41 total tackles, 30 of which were solo.
Schihabel explained that Reed’s mentality will serve him well in his career. He described his positive attitude and constant smile. He also is very aware of Reed being his toughest critic, which the defensive back explained to NBC Sports Bay Area after a difficult practice late in 2018.
“He’s a very self-motivated person,” Schilhabel said. “For where he’s at now, it’s pretty evident. That’s the best thing about him. He’s never been satisfied with what he’s done. I think that’s something that he’s carried with him for a long time.”