GLASSBORO – Reggie Jean-Charles is the first to admit that his high school football career didn’t get off to a very good start.
His sophomore year was a washout after he broke his ankle, pretty much putting an end to that season.
He improved some as a junior, but he still classifies the season a learning experience. Still he was effective in running for nearly 700 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.
But Jean-Charles’ senior season was different. It was then that he developed into a potent offensive threat, helping his team to a 9-3 record with just under 1,800 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
That performance earned him an appearance in the Adam Taliaferro all-star game where his touchdown run, as well as several other sustained gains, helped his Blue team to a 19-7 victory over the White in a game played at Rowan University on Thursday night.
Considering his background, Jean-Charles seemed gratified to get a chance to play with some of the region's best graduated high school seniors.
“Three years ago I wasn’t even starting in high school, so I wasn’t expecting to be here,” said the Gettysburg-bound Jean-Charles. “In my sophomore year I broke my ankle. In my junior year it was just the start of me getting used to everything – we had a new coaching staff and all of that.”
Now Jean-Charles classifies his senior year as a time when he has only begun to show off his abilities.
“I feel like this is just the start,” he said. “I got a whole lot of ahead of me.”
Perhaps his talents were best on display last season in a game against Pleasantville in which he rushed for 293 yards and scored six touchdowns.
Jean-Charles credits his Holy Spirit assistant coach Bill Walsh with helping him engineer his turn around. Still smarting from the loss of his sophomore season and not feeling great about his junior year Jean-Charles had a meeting with the coach.
“He sat me down in a room and told me I had to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Jean-Charles said. “That pretty much changed my whole mindset on everything.
“In my junior year when I got tired, I would give up little bit. I’m my senior year every time I got tired, I kept pushing myself, and pushing myself, telling myself it was going to pay off for me some day.”
The 6-foot-0, 210-pound Jean-Charles followed the football season by putting together a successful wrestling campaign. Competing as an undersized heavyweight, he compiled a record of 21-4 with 12 pins.
Even though Jean-Charles was pretty much unknown to his Taliaferro game coaches at the start of practice, he was quick to catch the eye of the Blue team’s offensive coordinator Matt Perry of Willingboro.
“I watched some tape of him and I couldn’t wait to get out here and coach the kid,” said Perry. “He’s a great kid. He has great size and he’s a great character kid. He really worked well with the other three backs. He was unselfish and he’s just a really good football player.
On Thursday, Jean-Charles delivered the game's first touchdown when he bulled over on a 3-yard run in the first quarter. He set the tone early in the game with a 10-yard rush on Blue’s first play from scrimmage.
Jean-Charles shared running back duties with Daivon Seymore of Vineland and Chris Fryar of Burlington City, but his number was called several other times as well, as the Blue team did a good job of keeping the offensive momentum flowing.
“We knew he was a talented kid, so we put the ball in his hands,” said Willingboro head coach Steve Everette, who directed the Blue team. “He had a couple of catches and we tried to run him and get him the ball as much as we could.”