(WHTM) — Haason Reddick has emerged as a star for the Philadelphia Eagles this season, and his journey to Glendale, Arizona for the Super Bowl is a remarkable ride that began at Haddon Heights High School in New Jersey.
“We were standing in the middle of the field with the team just running some sprints and this kid ran by us that was like six foot tall, 190 and was flying,” Haddon Heights head coach Chris Lina said. “He was moving fast. That was our first introduction to like this kid is going to be special.”
He had to wait until college to prove it. A fractured growth plate junior year and torn meniscus senior year left Reddick unrecruited, but he was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Temple due to his athleticism
“The only thing that was on my mind at the time was having the chance and opportunity to play football again,” Reddick said. “I wasn’t worried about the NFL. I was trying to get on the field any way I can at any position just to play the game again.”
He was moved around plenty. After arriving on Temple’s campus as a defensive back, Reddick moved to linebacker, then defensive end, where he thrived.
“To project a kid from wide receiver, free safety or corner to outside linebacker at a division one school… I’d be lying if I said I could see that coming,” Lina said.
Reddick drew buzz with nine and a half sacks his senior year, but his dazzling NFL combine performance vaulted him up to the 13th overall pick to the Arizona Cardinals.
It was far from a made-it moment for Reddick, who had to shake off a bust label after a few disappointing years playing out of position in Arizona.
“If you’re talking about a kid that used to play cornerback and he’s playing inside backer, that’s just… that’s one of the tougher positions to play in the NFL,” Lina said. “He was just out of position. It was tough.”
Reuniting with his college coach Matt Rhule in Carolina allowed an NFL staff to unlock Reddick’s talents as a pass rusher, where he tallied 11 sacks in 2021. The homecoming to Philly was just a matter of time.
“You talk about a team I watched growing up on Sundays, went to a couple games growing up,” Reddick said. “When I put that pen to paper I had fulfilled a childhood dream of mine.”
Finally, back home, Reddick enjoyed a career year with the Eagles, ranking second in the NFL in sacks and first in forced fumbles, including a signature performance in Philly’s 31-7 NFC Championship win over San Francisco.
“He won that game in the first quarter for them,” Lina said.
Even though NFL success and a multimillion-dollar contract, Reddick has stayed grounded, paying visits to Haddon Heights where it all started to continue supporting his alma mater.
“He wants to give back to his communities, he wants to be around, help out, no matter what he makes or who he is.”