Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger
CLEMSON — When you play behind one of the top quarterbacks in the country, and you are learning your second offense in two seasons, it isn’t good to have other things weighing on your mind.
But Clemson backup quarterback Tribble Reese has good reason to be distracted. One of his good friends from his hometown of Mountain Brook, Ala., is in trouble and there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t think about her safety.
That friend is Natalee Holloway, the teenager whose disappearance in Aruba has attracted widespread media coverage and concern not just in Mountain Brook, but all across the country.
“It is tough. It is tough on her family and it is tough on the community, but our community came together,” said Reese. “We all have yellow ribbons on our mail boxes and made bracelets for everybody so it has brought the community together, but it is unfortunate this had to happen.”
Reese, a red shirt freshman for the Tigers, knows Holloway from his high school days, when they attended the same off-campus gatherings or spoke to one another in the halls.
“We were pretty good friends,” he said. “I knew her cousin really well; he played football with me so I knew her too. She is a great girl.”
Which is why Reese is bothered by the way the national media has tried to betray Holloway’s personality at times. Some news outlets have come out with stories that she was a party animal and was out of control. Some said her parents had no control over her and she was out to the wee hours of the morning. Reese said those rumors are far from the truth.
“She is an awesome girl,” he said. “I would hear things on the news and stuff how she was a party animal and she went crazy, but that’s not true at all. She was the most down-to-earth girl ever. She was a sweet, sweet girl and it is unfortunate that this happened to her.”
Reese says he hasn’t spoken to any members of Holloway’s family, but he has spoken to some of her friends.
“Her mom and dad have been down in Aruba, obviously, all the time. They’re trying to push the case,” he said. “I don’t know what is going on down there, but I have talked to a bunch of her friends and we had prayer sessions. I just tried to comfort her friends as much as possible.”
Holloway’s disappearance has really taken Reese and the town of Mountain Brook aback. Once a place where most figured they were safe from the violence of the outside world, Holloway’s story has now come home to haunt them all.
“I actually went on the same senior trip last year,” Reese said. “We went to the same clubs and the same places and nothing like this happened so I mean it is unbelievable it happens the year after we go.”
When talking about Holloway, Reese recalls seeing her dance as a member of the high school dance team, on weekends at the local hangout spots or just simply saying hi to her as they passed each other in the halls.
“I had a big group of friends so I never was in a tight social circle, but I definitely saw her out on weekends and we would say hey to each other in school and stuff,” he said.
With Holloway and her family in his thoughts and prayers, Reese is trying to get adjusted to new offensive coordinator Rob Spence and his offense. He admits that it has been tough, but he feels he will be ready if he is called upon.
“It’s going well,” said Reese, who passed for 2,400 yards and 24 touchdowns as a high school senior. “It’s hot. We’re just trying to (learn) as much of the offense as Coach Spence is doing and grasp as much of the offense as best we can.”
Right now, Reese and fellow backup Cullen Harper are studying the playbook and watching film as much as they can. For them, this is the best way for them to learn the offense because much of the reps have to go to starter Charlie Whitehurst and second teamer Will Proctor.
Though he and Harper aren’t getting as many reps as Whitehurst and Proctor, Reese says Spence keeps them on their toes.
“Coach Spence emphasizes that we be ready,” Reese said. “He also makes sure all his quarterbacks are up on things. He calls us out and makes sure we know what he is talking about.
“He knows things do happen. This is college football, this is the ACC. He just wants us to be ready and I want to be ready if that chance does come.”
Now that he is learning a new offense, Reese doesn’t feel last year was a wasted year. He said it helped him grow up not only as a college football player, but off the field as well.
“I’m not going to say that (it was a wasted year) because I learned a lot about college football last year,” he said. “As far as the offense goes, it’s tough.
“Last year, I studied the offense and did my best to learn that so I could be ready this year, but then I found out Coach (Mike) O’Cain got let go and that was tough because I knew we would have to learn a brand new offense. It is tough learning an offense. It is not an easy thing so to have to learn two in two years, it is really tough.”
Will Vandervort is the Sports Editor for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger.