Trey Reese passed for more than 7,000 yards as a high school quarterback, credentials that cast no doubt on the power and precision of his right arm.
Yet three years detached from Reese leading Indian Creek to the program’s first and only Class 3A semistate appearance, and all traces of prior magic continue their frustrating hiatus.
During summer two-a-day practices, the Marian University redshirt sophomore aggravated the injury to his brachial plexus that sidelined him all of the 2012 season. The brachial plexus is a network of nerve fibers running from the spine through the neck and into the arm.
“It was a play-action pass where I was forced to flip my hips quickly and get the ball out quickly, which led to a side-armed throw,” Reese recalled. “That was the first real shot of pain I had again, but I could tell my arm was starting to get weaker and weaker as camp went on.”
Football at this time is a wait-and-hope proposition. Reese waits and hopes, but a return to his old form is anything but certain.
“I felt really, really good coming into two-a-days,” said the 6-foot, 215-pound quarterback who as an Indian Creek senior in 2010 threw for 3,172 yards and 43 touchdowns and was MVP of the 2011 North-South All-Star Game. “It’s been brutal. Definitely tough, but my teammates and family have been very supportive.”
Instead of calling plays in a huddle, Reese — who was also and undefeated IHSAA state wrestling champion his senior year — finds himself charting them from the Knights’ sideline.
Not exactly the role he envisioned, though traveling with the team and being involved during Marian practices and games helps ease the sting somewhat.
“Trey is a tremendous kid and competitor who would have definitely been in the mix for our quarterback position, no question about it,” first-year Knights coach Mark Henninger said. “He’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do, and it’s just killing him not being out there.
“The injury Trey had last year, that’s a pretty serious injury. If there’s any way to rehabilitate and come out of it, he’s the type of kid who could do it.”
Time is the best healer when it comes to nerve-related injuries such as the one Reese is experiencing.
Perhaps the weeks and months ahead ultimately remove the tingling he continues to experience in his right shoulder, arm and fingers. Maybe one day Reese will grip a football in the authoritative manner in which he’s accustomed.
However, having turned 21 in June, Reese, who is majoring in economics, also is forced to wonder if college football is worth the risk. He wants to engage in back-yard pass-catch scenarios with whatever children he may have someday without having to throw left-handed.
“Honestly, and I hate to say it, but this might be the setback (that ends his football career),” said Reese, the Daily Journal’s 2010 Football Player of the Year and its 2010-11 co-Male Athlete of the Year winner. “I’m a young man right now, and I have to look at the big picture. It’s just one of those things. I’ve had this conversation with the doctors and trainers, but right now I’m just focused on the rehabilitation.
“I’m just trying to stay positive. It’s tough, but God has a plan for everybody.”