October 9, 1998
by Gavin Lang
The San Diego State football team has earned a reputation over the years as being a factory for big-time wide receivers. Such former Aztecs as Haven Moses, Webster Slaughter, Darnay Scott, Will Blackwell, and Az-zahir Hakim immediately come to mind.
The wide receiver position has not received as much hype in 1998. In fact, Athlon Sports called the SDSU receivers "Smurfs" in their `98 College Preview. This doesn't seem to bother Jesus Reyes, the 5'7" senior leader of the Aztec receiving corps.
"For the big guys, it's tough to get a hand on us," Reyes said. "We can get by them, but its just a matter of making plays."
Reyes, who suited up alongside such SDSU greats as Blackwell and Hakim, doesn't mind that this years receiving corps hasn't gotten as much hype as in past years. In fact, he would rather discuss achievement by the wide receivers as a whole, than talk about individual accomplishments.
"As a unit, were comfortable playing with each other," Reyes said. "This is Wide-Out University. The wide receivers are a group to watch. Were going to gel. Were going to get a lot better as the year goes on."
His positive outlook on both football and life has made him a valuable leader on the SDSU football team.
"The biggest thing about him is that most of the time, he is in a good mood and always is smiling," Aztec sophomore quarterback Spencer Brinton says. "He brings the good mood with him to practice every day, and if someone is in a bad mood, he pumps them up."
As a senior, Reyes realizes it takes more than just on-field performance to guide a team. Not only is he SDSU's top receiving threat, but he is also a leader in the locker room.
"My role is to provide leadership, guidance, and inspiration," Reyes said. "I wouldn't be able to do it myself, though. Jesus Christ is my inspiration."
Reyes strong belief in Christianity helped him through his first year as an Aztec. After catching 50 passes as a freshman at Northern Arizona University, Reyes found himself on the bench as a sophomore at SDSU.
"My expectations were kind of shot down when I got here. The guys who were ahead of me deserved to be playing. I didn't know how to handle that," Reyes said. "I lacked patience, because I was young. I didn't understand that patience plays a big role, and when I got my shot, I had to take advantage of it."
And take advantage of it he did. Last season, Reyes caught 31 passes for 462 yards. He enjoyed a career-best outing on November 8 against San Jose State, when he caught five passes for 106 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown reception.
In addition, Reyes received national attention after returning a kickoff 96 yards at Wyoming. He earned the ATLong Distance Award for having the longest kickoff return of the week in Division I-A college football.
Reyes big-play capability comes as no surprise to Aztec wide receivers coach Wayne Dickens.
"He's got ability to make some significant plays," Dickens said. "He is a tough guy. He'll fight tooth and nail, and he works hard."
Although Reyes is a fierce competitor and a gifted athlete on the field, he is also a talented writer off of it.
After consulting with a guidance counselor recently, Reyes entered a poetry contest. His piece, "Thoughts of Travel" is currently in the semifinals of the contest.
"I guess you can say I'm a poet," Reyes said. "I enjoy writing poetry."
"Thoughts of Travel" is a poem written about an ex-girlfriend of Reyes, and about the importance of making the most of opportunities when they are presented. Whether or not Reyes entry wins, it has advanced far enough to be published.
Despite the fact poetry and football are an unlikely combination, Reyes still finds a way to excel on the gridiron. One of the main reasons is his mind-set. Although he realizes his 5'7", 170 pound frame does not make him the most imposing player on the field, he still finds a way to succeed.
"I love playing the underdog, I've always rooted for the underdog," Reyes said. "When I'm called upon to make a big block on a linebacker, I smile and think of it in a David and Goliath sense."
Although Reyes has hopes of playing professionally after leaving Montezuma Mesa, he remains humble.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL," Reyes said. "But if the Lord guided me to walk away from football this moment, I would."
Aztecs Hosts Hawaii in Special Friday Night Game
The San Diego State University football team returns home for its 1998 Western Athletic Conference home opener against the University of Hawaii on Friday, October 9 at 7:05 p.m.
The game was originally scheduled for October 10 at 6:05 p.m., but was moved to due to a potential San Diego Padre playoff conflict.
The Aztecs (1-3 overall, 1-0 WAC) won their first game of the season last week on the road in Tulsa 24-14, while the Rainbow Warriors (0-4 overall, 0-2 WAC) fell at home to SMU, 28-0.
The combined record of the four Aztec opponents to this point in the season is 16-3.
This week's game will mark the 24th meeting between San Diego State and Hawaii. The Aztecs lead the all-time series 14-7-2. The last time they met was on October 25, 1997 in Honolulu with SDSU winning the game 10-3.
Hawaii defeated SDSU in the first meeting between the two teams in 1939 (13-0) in Honolulu.
The Aztecs have won the last eight contests between the two schools. The last time Hawaii defeated San Diego State was on October 7, 1989, winning 31-24. The last Rainbow victory in San Diego was in 1988 (36-30).
Tollner is 4-0 versus Hawaii since his arrival in 1994. In the last three meetings, the Rainbows have averaged only seven points per game to the Aztecs 35.3.