Trinity receiver DeVante Reid drinks in full college experience as he chases another title

DeVante Reid’s first response to Trinity College’s football coaches was “no.”

“I came up here for a visit and I said ‘no,’ the first time,” Reid said. “I had just torn my ACL in the first game of my senior year in high school, and I wanted to do a post-grad year, so I went to Worcester Academy. The coaches kept texting me, ‘Hey, we see you here, we see you’re a good fit.’”

Perhaps Reid was eyeing a level higher than Division III but accepted an invitation to revisit the Broad Street campus.

“I was like, ‘Okay, why do they still want me when I got hurt,” Reid said. “So I came up for my second visit. Coach [Jeff] Devanney gave me the early decision form and he told me I had until 5 p.m. that day, that Sunday, I’ll never forget. I went back to Worcester Academy, sat in my dorm by myself and stared at that form and at 4:45 I called him and said, ‘I’m in.’”

Devanney and his staff had simply reached a point where they needed a yes or would have to move on to others. Reid’s deadline decision turned out to be a great one, life-changing for him and for many on whom he has had impact.

“We saw talent with the ball in his hands,” DeVanney said. “But we also saw really strong character. Not at all surprised he ended up being a captain. These guys who have gone through college the last few years have been through a lot that some of us didn’t deal with. COVID was one thing, and as a Black man, too, they’ve dealt with the George Floyd protests. DeVante jumped in, two feet, into all of that. Really got involved and became a leader on a lot of different committees. His resume the last few years is a lot more than just being a football player.”

Reid, 22, who was born in London and grew up and played high school ball at Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, N.Y., has been on Trinity’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, treasurer of school’s Athletes of Color Coalition. helped launch the athletic department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which facilitates conversations among the teams on campus and offers suggestions to the department. Reid has been nominated for the American Football Coaches Association’s national All-Good Works team.

He graduated last May with a degree in political science and minors in psychology and sociology. Now he is in grad school, studying public policy and law, living in a house down the street with four teammates who decided to return as a group and pursue the NESCAC championship to bookend the one they won as freshmen in 2018.

“We had conversations all summer,” Reid said. “We’d go out to eat, talk on the phone, ‘If we’re going to come back, let’s come back together.’ The way we ended the season last year, 8-1, everybody sees that as a great season, but here at Trinity, it’s not. If you’re going 8-1 and not winning a championship, it’s not really the standard that we have here. We wanted to come back because we have the team, we have everything it takes to win a championship.”

Reid caught two first-half touchdown passes, the 12th and 13th of his career, from quarterback Spencer Fetter in the opening game, helping the Bantams open a 26-3 halftime lead at Tufts before hanging on to win 26-23. This, too, wasn’t up to standard. Reid spent the rest of the weekend talking to younger players and the elders called a player’s only meeting to set things right before practices for Game 2, the homecoming game vs. Colby on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“It was a bad second half, but I realized this team understands the standard,” Reid said. “We won that game, but it felt like we didn’t. Everybody knows that blowing games like that isn’t a part of what we do and who we are. This team is really talented from top to bottom.”

Across 26 games at Trinity, Reid has averaged 59.6 receiving yards per game, including 89.9 in 2021 and 70 in the opener this year.

“He’s got a unique ability to change direction without stopping,” Devanney said. “When he runs routes he just kind of fluently runs it. Some guys go post to corner, it takes them three steps. He does it without even changing gears. And he’s got really strong hands. I don’t know how many times he’s caught the ball in traffic, taken a really big hit and he never puts the ball on the ground.”

Last week, Reid, 6 feet and 190 pounds, dove into a pile of players and wrestled the ball away at the bottom of the pile to recover Tufts’ onside kick and seal the win.

Though his football work is impressive, Reid has also run the sprint events for the track team. He’s undecided about doing a fifth year there. On campus his presence has been felt everywhere.

“During the George Floyd protests, he stepped up as a leader on this campus,” Devanney said. “And he also challenged me some times. He’d call me and say, ‘Coach, how come you haven’t done something about this? How come you haven’t said this?’ He almost coached me through some of that.”

Reid has become interested in photography and videography and has been working with the sports communications office. He has also mentored students at Montessori Magnet School near campus.

“I took a class called The Art of Community where I got over to Montessori,” Reid said. “Just being around those kids and seeing their everyday life, those kids would lighten up my day. They were so happy, so ready to be in the classroom. It was like, ‘wow.’ They really motivated me. They’re smarter than you think they are.”

After a summer working with the Union Square Hospitality Group he has become interested in that industry as a place to start his post-Trinity life. But Reid, who may have reluctantly dove in, knows he will never really leave, or vice versa.

“I was really just looking to play football,” he said. “For me, it was just football and school. I took advantage of what college offered for me and it just went from there. I didn’t think I was going to be a part of all these committees, run track, all that stuff. But I adapted and just ran with it. Trinity, I feel it’s in my blood now. This place has a special place in my heart. It’s been everything and more.”

Dom Amore can be reached at damore@courant