Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary describes him as relentless. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden says he's scary.
The two coaches are talking about Florida State senior defensive end Jamal Reynolds, a former Aiken High standout who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 11 sacks this year and has 14 tackles for loss. His resume also includes nine quarterback pressures, four forced fumbles and two safeties.
"It's just his basic second effort," said O'Leary, who has experienced his share of trouble with Reynolds. "He doesn't stay blocked very long. He comes off the ball, and he moves so well. He plays the run game very well."
When No. 10 Clemson ventures into Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday to face the No. 4 Seminoles, Reynolds is sure to be all over the field.
Bowden worries about his small and youthful offensive line's ability to contain the 6-foot-4, 254-pounder, who has wreaked havoc on the Tigers during the past two seasons.
"It's scary because we didn't protect the passer real well against Georgia Tech," Bowden said. "And his pass rush will be better than (Georgia Tech's). Now all of a sudden you're going to have to do something, either sprint away from him or add an additional blocker. Then you limit yourself to play calling."
It's no secret Reynolds is one of the nation's top defensive linemen. He declined to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season, electing to stay in school and enhance his draft status.
"He's a gifted player, no doubt," said Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. "He's a guy who can run fast and has decent size. He's worked hard since he's gotten here in the weight room, gotten stronger and improved his speed in the process. He knows the guy with the ball is the guy he's supposed to get to.
"I'm just glad he's on our team."
With the exception of a loss to Miami earlier this season, Reynolds said his senior campaign has been a dream come true.
"I've been working hard all my life," Reynolds said. "It goes to show you that hard work does pay off."
Reynolds contributes his dream season to working out during the summer with Florida State linebacker Brian Allen and his cousin Walter Scott, a former professional player with Green Bay and Miami. Reynolds said the three spent the summer "working on the little things that could make me a better player."
His hard work should pay dividends next April when the NFL holds its annual draft. Draft analysts expect Reynolds to be taken in the first two rounds. Some experts say the Florida State senior could be one of the first 10 players chosen. But right now Reynolds isn't worried about that.
The ACC title is on the line Saturday night when Florida State plays host to Clemson.
"You're going to have to play against him some time," Bowden said. "He's an NFL player, and right now we're blocking him with some guys who are going to struggle."
With Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler's status questionable for Saturday night's game, Reynolds doesn't know what to make of the situation. Some have compared Dantzler's play to that of Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick, whom Reynolds sacked three times in last year's national championship game.
But Reynolds said he doesn't want to face anybody who's similar to Vick.
"I don't know if I want to see him (Vick) again," Reynolds said. "He hurt a lot of us last year, made us twist our knees and stuff."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.
|Jamal Reynolds season stats|
44 total tackles
14 tackles for loss -- 2nd in ACC, leads team
1 pass breakup
9 quarterback hurries
4 forced fumbles -- leads team
2 safeties -- leads team
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