From under the radar to under the spotlight, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick has done more than take the NFL by storm this year. He’s become a glimmering Jersey gem many Garden State fans had not known about. The All-Pro stalwart, second in the NFL with 16 sacks this season, began his football life as a New Jersey high-school safety.
Hard to believe that the leader of Philadelphia’s record-setting sack pack was barely noticed in high school and played a different position. Now he’s part of NFL history as Reddick, along with Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham have enabled the Eagles to be the first NFL team with four players to record 10 or more sacks in one season.
That’s because Reddick got a late start playing football while attending Haddon Heights High School and then an injury cut his senior year short.
Fast-forward to today, beside being a Pro Bowl selection, Reddick, who signed with his hometown team as a free agent, is looking to lock up the NFC’s No. 1 seed when those New York Giants come to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday (4:25 p.m. kickoff).
I’M COMING HOME!!!! #FlyEaglesFly
— Haason 7 Reddick (@Haason7Reddick) March 14, 2022
Haason Reddick enjoying a glorious homecoming
In Week 3 against the Washington Commanders, Reddick recorded 1.5 sacks including a forced fumble in the 24-8 win. One game later, Reddick forced two sack-fumbles on Trevor Lawrence in the 29-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
But will he finish the 2022 season as the NFL sack leader? Only Nick Bosa (17.5) of the San Francisco 49ers has more. Matthew Judon from the New England Patriots is third with 15.5 sacks. He has three more than Micah Parsons, the beneficiary of the Dallas Cowboys hype machine. From a NJ sports betting perspective, Parsons is a runaway choice for Defensive Player of the Year. FanDuel Sportsbook has Parsons’ odds to win the award at -250..
However, Reddick has been surging more than anyone. He has two sacks in three straight games. In the first of the three, against the Chicago Bears, he was virtually unstoppable. Along with the sacks, he was a disrupter on nearly every play.
Reddick is now part of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year conversation. FanDuel lists his odds at +300 to notch two sacks for a fourth straight game when the Eagles host the Giants.
His efforts have propelled the Eagles to 68 team sacks, far and away the top total in the NFL (the Patriots are second with 52).
At age 28, Reddick is playing the best football of his life.
Haason Reddick’s South Jersey connection
There are times when players show a flash of potential in high school and become a full star not far from where they grew up.
Reddick fits that mold.
Believe it or not, he was not one of those star high school football players. Actually, Ralph Schiavo, his football coach at Haddon Heights High School, told philadelphiaeagles.com last spring that Reddick probably had less than 100 career high-school snaps. Attribute that to the late start and a fractured femur that halted his senior season.
Schiavo had seen big things for Reddick in a limited window. He envisioned Reddick as an offensive force after seeing him score three touchdowns on five touches The coach also noticed something special about Reddick’s weight room work ethic and detected the first spark of a future NFL star.
To shield him from injury and preserve his offensive prowess, Schiavo used Reddick as a safety. However, he got hurt anyway and had to take the long, unheralded route to college success.
NFL road goes through Temple University
Reddick joined the Temple University Owls as a walk-on in 2012. He was a running back and safety. He was red-shirted for 2012, saw his first action in 2013 and slowly blossomed. As a senior in 2016, Reddick was named First-Team All-AAC after recording 65 tackles and 10.5 sacks as a defensive end.
A transformative move came before the 2017 Senior Bowl. Reddick was moved to inside linebacker during practice and excelled with a game-high nine tackles. That shot him up the charts and he continued clearing hurdles with a strong NFL Scouting Combine performance.
And that put him in the NFL Draft picture.
The Arizona Cardinals selected him 13th (the first linebacker taken in the 2017 draft). It was a special occasion for Reddick, with the event taking place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It fittingly capped a Rocky-like journey minutes away from where the blue-collar, hard-driving Camden native grew up.
The No. 1 selection in that draft was Myles Garrett. He’s been a star for the Cleveland Browns and became their all-time sack leader this year.
The draft was also prominent for Patrick Mahomes being taken in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Derek Barnett, now an injured Eagles teammate of Reddick, was taken right behind him.
Reddick played four seasons with the Cardinals and then signed with the Carolina Panthers for 2021. That re-united him with head coach Matt Rhule, who had coached him at Temple.
But last March, Reddick became an Eagle, and, in the mind of Garden State football fans, returned to his roots.
Wherever this season winds up (potential Super Bowl appearance included), Reddick has been an inspirational story.
“This is amazing. I don’t think this story could have been written any better”
-Haason Reddick says he is thrilled to be coming home and playing in the stadium where Temple football fans saw him play
“I’m thrilled” pic.twitter.com/coWmiZwgNb
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) March 17, 2022