FSU's Greg Reid and father enjoying reunion

Greg Reid Sr. has been pacing in his house in South Georgia for several days. He found it hard to sleep. For six years he was locked up or on 12-hour shifts of work release for cocaine trafficking. But the pacing is not because he is free to move about as he pleases. It is because he can finally see his son, Florida State’s Greg Reid Jr. play a football game.

The anticipation, he says, is almost overwhelming.

Reid, 43, has been watching the family’s home-made movies in the middle of the night this week recounting his son’s fearless runs with the football as a young boy. The father pleads for someone to hit the fast-forward button and get him quickly to new highlights as they await Friday night and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“If I go to sleep tonight,” he said Thursday morning in a phone interview, “I’m sure when I wake up I’m leaving out for Atlanta.

“The last time I saw him play he was a freshman in high school, and he returned one for a touchdown against a JV team. They put him on varsity the next week. I never saw that. I was locked up.”

He paused for a moment and said, “I’m more excited than he is for this game.”

The younger Reid, who is 20, might dispute that. On the field in the Georgia Dome this week, following practice, he was asked about his father finally coming to a game and his eyes went as wide as a satellite dish, as if a punt were in the air and he was ready to snatch it and go.

“It’s going to be amazing, man,” said Reid, now a sophomore at FSU. “It’s going to mean a lot to me.”

Reid was on his way to becoming a star at Lowndes County High School, and one of the more highly recruited players in the country, when his father went to jail in 2004. The day his father was arrested, Reid was standing on the curb outside the football stadium waiting for his father to pick him up after practice. He never came.

Reid went on to be named Player of the Year in Georgia. His father only heard about it, he didn’t see it.

Reid rushed for 1,242 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a senior. His father heard about it, but didn’t see it.

Reid was named Parade All-American and was MVP of the Under Armour All-Star Game. His father could only read about it in a cell.

Reid led the FBS (formerly Division I-A) in punt returns (18.4) as a freshman in 2009. His father still could only read about it.

The drug charges might have taken a toll on their relationship once the son went to Tallahassee, but the Reids behave as if there never was a separation. They threw the football over the Christmas holidays and got in some wrestling, which would have worried FSU coaches.

“We didn’t lose contact with each other one time,” Reid said of his father's absence. “They had him in Lowndes County for a couple of years; we just kept up with him. We talked almost every weekend. During high school, our games were on Fridays, so on Saturdays I went to see him. We kept that father-son relationship.

“Once he got to the work program, they started showing him You Tube clips [of Reid's performances]. He couldn’t really believe it.”

Reid was the FSU nickel back as a freshman, but he claimed a starting cornerback position last spring in practice and has started all 13 games this season. The punt-return average has plummeted from 18.4 to 9.0 because teams are kicking away from him or just booting it out of bounds. It has meant better field position for the Seminoles’ offense, but fewer chances for a dazzling return from Reid.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said that if he has his way, Reid will not give his dad a welcome-home gift off a Gamecocks punt.

“Probably not,” was Spurrier’s response when asked if South Carolina would dare challenge Reid with a punt.

“We’re not just going to punt it 50 yards downfield and say hey fellas see if you can cover that guy. We’re going to try and be smart.”

When told Spurrier will be reluctant to give him a crack at a return, Reid had a disappointed frown for a moment and then said he hoped the South Carolina coach might show some daring, and a little nerve.

“The ball will get in my hands somehow,” Reid said.

His father knows that look when the son does have the ball in his hands. He saw it on one of the family movies this week.

“He is wearing Pampers, and he has the ball in his hands and his eyes are wide open, that vision, and he is looking around and starts running,” Reid Sr. said.

“Man, I can’t wait.”