There’s been a lot of two-sport athletes in college athletics, but none maybe as large as D.J. Reader.
Reader is a freshman defensive lineman for the Clemson Tigers but football is not his only passion. For the past few weeks, Reader has been trying to earn on a spot on Clemson’s baseball team, a sport that’s not unfamiliar to the big man.
Back in high school in North Carolina, he played on his baseball team up until his senior season. He realized his chances of earning a scholarship in football was much greater than earning one in baseball so he put his focus on the gridiron. One of the reasons that Reader ended up committing to Clemson over Maryland as part of the 2012 recruiting class was the lure of possibly playing baseball.
On the football field, he might look like just another normal lineman, but there’s no hiding his size on the baseball field. Reader is a large individual, standing at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, but don’t let his size fool you into thinking he doesn’t have any baseball skills. Get this, his preferred position on the diamond is as a pitcher, but he has a solid skill set to possibly make the team. The right-handed pitcher is equipped with a 90 mph fastball and with his football athleticism, he has the potential to be a power hitter in Jack Leggett’s lineup.
Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has stated in the past that he is not against his football players playing another sport as long as they play a significant role in their non-football venture. Case in point: former Clemson starting quarterback and standout baseball star Kyle Parker, who played on the Tigers baseball team from 2008-10. Parker ended up choosing baseball over football at the next level and he is currently an outfielder in the Colorado Rockies organization.
Leggett is intrigued by Reader’s abilities and he said that he would keep an open mind about his chances on making the team but his future on the Clemson baseball team is questionable at best. Still, having a guy like Reader try out for the team makes for a good story and it would be an even better one if he is a part of their roster for their season opener next Friday.