EMU coach Fred Reed dies at 54
At 54, the football coach with 27 years of experience, died on Sunday.
Awful news to come from Eastern Michigan over the weekend. Defensive backs coach Fred Reed, who was coming into his seventh year of the program, died Sunday after a medical emergency, per an EMU spokesperson (through the family).
Reed was 54, and is survived by his wife La'Shannon, and their two kids, Amar'e and Khamara.
Plans to celebrate and commemorate Reed’s life are not yet announced.
From the university:
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — Eastern Michigan University Assistant Football Coach Fred Reed passed away Sunday, May 8, at the age of 54. Reed, who was the program's defensive pass game coordinator and safeties coach, was in his seventh year in Ypsilanti and 27th season overall in the coaching ranks.
"We are devastated to learn of Coach Reed's passing," said EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. "Fred was the ultimate model of a husband, father, friend, and coach. Our hearts go out to his wife, La'Shannon, his children, Amar'e and Khamara, and anyone who was lucky enough to have known him. He will be dearly missed."
Reed's 27-year coaching career included 25 seasons in the college ranks and two years in the National Football League. His resume features eight bowl games and three conference championships, and he coached four All-Americans, 13 first-team all-conference selections, and developed 11 NFL prospects.
"Please keep Coach Reed's family in your thoughts and prayers during this incredibly difficult time," Head Football Coach Chris Creighton added. "It is impossible to capture what he means to all of us right now."
Grief counselors are being made available to EMU students-athletes, coaches, and staff. Furthermore, details about opportunities to remember Coach Reed will be communicated as soon as they are available.
Reed came to Ypsilanti in 2016 after spending three years at Syracuse University. A veteran coach with experience at the collegiate and professional levels, he shifted from cornerbacks to safeties in 2020 along with adding the Defensive Pass Game Coordinator role.
Reed's efforts as the team's defensive passing game coordinator were critical for the team's overall success during the 2021 campaign. EMU forced 18 turnovers in 2021, and scored points off of 15 (11 touchdowns, 4 field goals). EMU scored 89 points off those turnovers, three times as a direct result of the play, and 12 times in its subsequent offensive possession.
2018 saw the EMU defense once again at the top of the Mid-American Conference, as the Eagles allowed just 150.2 passing yards per game, good for tops in the league and third-best in the NCAA.
The defense in 2017 allowed just 3.8 points per game over the course of the final 15 minutes. Even better at home, the Eagles did not give up a fourth quarter point inside "The Factory". Nationally, EMU ranked fourth in the fewest points given up in the fourth quarter. The defense also posted three returns for touchdowns, the most by an EMU squad since 1994.
The Eagles saw a remarkable improvement in its first season with Reed, finishing in a tie for the most improved program in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). EMU allowed 86.5 yards per game less in 2016 (432.7 per game) than it did in 2015 (519.2 per game) to rank 83rd in the country and seventh in the MAC.
Reed spent three years working with the defensive backs at Syracuse from 2013-15.
Reed had two coaching stints at Ohio University. He spent three years as the cornerbacks and punt return coach before coming to Syracuse, during which the Bobcats won one Mid-American Conference East Division championship and played in three bowl games, including the 2010 New Orleans Bowl, 2011 Idaho Potato Bowl and 2012 Independence Bowl.
Reed was the secondary coach at the University at Buffalo in 2008 when the Bulls won the MAC championship and played in the International Bowl. His 2008 defense led the nation in forced fumbles and his 2009 unit ranked 43rd in total defense, which was the highest finish for a Bulls defense in 10 years. In 2009, Reed was promoted to defensive coordinator and he also coached the secondary. That season, the Bulls' defense led the MAC in opponent fourth down conversion percentage (27.3 percent), finished third in total defense (342.7) and first downs allowed (232), fourth in rushing defense (131.8) and fourth in pass defense efficiency (120.0).
In 2006 and 2007, Reed was a defensive assistant for the Detroit Lions working with the safeties, including Kenoy Kennedy, Terrence Holt, Daniel Bullocks and Gerald Alexander.
Prior to his first stint at Ohio, Reed spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He helped lead the Mavericks to a Top 25 ranking in both the 2003 and 2004 season and a North Central Conference Championship in 2004. His defense led the conference in takeaways in both 2003 and 2004 and ranked second in the conference in overall defense in 2004. Prior to being elevated to defensive coordinator, Reed spent three seasons as special teams coordinator and defensive secondary coach at UNO. In 2000, the Mavericks led the NCC in pass efficiency defense en route to winning the conference championship.
Reed spent three seasons as recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach at Michigan Tech. In 1999, he helped lead the Huskies to a 6-5 mark - their first winning season in five years. He started his career as a secondary coach at South Dakota in 1994. He also coached the secondary for a season at Minnesota Morris (1996).
Reed was a 1994 graduate of Colorado Mesa University with a bachelor's degree in recreation management. He played free safety for the Mavericks from 1991-92. He earned his master's in sports management from the United States Sports Academy in 2002.
He is survived by his wife, La'Shannon, and their two children, Amar'e Reed and Khamara. Amar'e previously announced that he would be joining the EMU football program for the upcoming 2022 season.
I didn’t know Reed personally, but by all signs he was one of the more respected coaches in the sport with a record of being a great role model for the players.
Looking at some of the tweets of those who actually did know Reed, people said he’d challenge his players to be their best versions of themselves, was an incredible mentor, truly cared about each individual player on the roster, genuine, authentic, and generally left a huge impact on everybody he came across in the sport. And when you’ve been coaching for 27 years, there are at least some thousands of players, coaches, and staff that’ve benefited from getting to know him.
My thoughts are with Reed’s family and friends at this time.
If you knew Reed and would like to share a memory or story, please reach out to me via Twitter DMs, or by email (email@example.com)