When Bert Reed hurt his ankle in Florida State's second game of the season against Charleston Southern it didn't seem to be a serious injury.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher was optimistic that the fifth-year senior from Panama City, Fla. would be able to play the following week in a top-five match up between FSU and then No. 1 Oklahoma.
But that wasn't the case as Reed never progressed during the week, and then the ensuing week as well as he missed a second straight game, this time the Seminoles' ACC opener against Clemson.
"Nobody thought it was serious at the beginning," he said of the injury. "But I kind of knew when I went down, looking in hindsight, the way I went down and the way I couldn't put pressure on it. I've rolled my ankle before, and I knew the next day when it was swelled up and I was hurting like that, that it wasn't something small. So we just kept getting MRIs and X-Rays, but it was more my bone bruise that was holding me out than my ankle sprain."
Reed was unable to play in losses to Oklahoma, Clemson, and only sparingly in a third straight loss to Wake Forest.
Each loss hurt Reed since he was unable to play , but none was more devastating to him than missing the marquee matchup with the Sooners.
"That was probably one the most disappointing feelings I've ever had in my life to a certain extent," he said on Tuesday. "I've had people die--but probably the biggest game of my life. I never played in a state championship, that probably was the biggest game of my life that I didn't get to play in... A player like me I feel like I could have given you something, so to not be able to give you anything was hard on me."
Now six games into his senior season, Reed said he finally feels healthy again. For the first time since before the injury he can run and cut, and not wake up sore the next morning.
Fisher said now it's just a matter of Reed getting back into a rhythm on the field.
"Bert's getting back, getting back in the flow of things," Fisher said after Tuesday's practice. "Gotta get him back in the mix and he'll play himself back into shape.
Coupled with the three losses, Reed being unable to play was also disappointing because of how the 5-foot-10, 183-pound wideout was doing on the field before the injury.
Fisher had praised Reed throughout preseason camp and through two games he had already hauled in seven receptions for 64 yards and three touchdowns.
While he was injured, each week it seemed that Reed would potentially be able to go. He practiced in a limited role and warmed up at each game, but ultimately the ankle just wouldn't let him go even after having it numbed.
"With the medicine you feel like you can do anything, but you're really kind of hurting yourself," he said. "You only can do so much with the medicine. That's where I was, I was getting medicine but I could only do so much. If you asked me I could've probably played, but it wouldn't be enough to be who I was, or it probably would have hurt the team to a certain extent. That's something I would never want to do and the coaches realized that too. I knew the coaches always had my best interest in me to play or not play. I was confident in their decision whether I would play or not."
Still despite not being on the field, Reed tired to have as much of an impact on his team as he could. He was there every time young receivers like Rashad Greene, Christian Green, or Kenny Shaw came off the field to offer his perspective.
Reed said he never tried to motivate and tell guys to get going or things of that sort, instead he just offered advice to his fellow receivers individually.
"I just stayed in each individual ear," Reed said. "My big thing is it's hard to talk when you're not doing anything. You're rah, rah, rah, but you're not in it with us. So that was my big thing, I would just talk individually to each one of my guys and see if I could say something to help them."
As he offered advice to the younger receivers, they starred on the field as all three have come into their own this season. Greene is on pace to shatter FSU freshman receiving records, Green is averaging 21.5 yards per catch, and Shaw has come up with a number of big grabs.
Even with the success of the younger guys Reed never looked at it as competition between himself and the younger guys when he returned from injury.
"I honestly trust my coaches and what they're doing," Reed said. "They know my ability and they know what (these young guys) are doing, so I feel like if there's a way to get us on the field at the same time (they will). For me it was never 'I better hurry up and get back.' It was 'I'll get back when I can and I'll do what I can when I get back.'"
With 148 career catches Reed ranks fifth all-time in receptions at FSU. He needs just 189more to pass E.G. Green for fourth place. But with seven games left in his career Reed is just hoping to help keep FSU on track and finish on a positive note.
We've got seven games left," Reed said. "And we're going to feel like what you do now is what matters."
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