From Camden to the NFL
Haason Reddick's incredible journey to the Cardinals
By Klein Aleardi

With more than 70,000 eager fans waiting on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway last April, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Arizona Cardinals would choose Camden-native Haason Reddick as the 13th overall pick of the 2017 Draft. And the crowd went wild.

For the Temple grad, this celebration was just a continuation of the hype the 6-foot-1, 237-pound powerhouse had experienced leading up to draft day. A few days before, Reddick was joined by friends and family to receive Camden’s key to the city during a ceremony aboard the Battleship New Jersey.

“This location is fitting,” said Congressman Donald Norcross at the ceremony. “The Battleship is the most decorated ship in naval history, and we hope Haason Reddick will be the greatest NFL player.”

Reddick has come a long way from his days playing football with friends on the fields of Camden, and if his history is any indication, he’ll go much further. No one can say Reddick hasn’t earned his time in the spotlight.

“I only know hard work, dedication and how to be a competitor,” says Reddick. “It’s something that was instilled in me from my parents and from Camden.”

Reddick has held onto that mentality through every obstacle he’s faced – from high school injuries that restricted him to just four game appearances in his last two years to a walk-on, redshirt status at Temple. Even when then Owls head coach Steve Addazio asked Reddick to leave after one year on the team, he never gave up.

“I think when it came time for college recruiting,” Reddick says. “I was overlooked because I hadn’t gotten much training time and didn’t have a lot of tape like other players. But I planned to be prepared for my opportunity whenever it was going to come. I would go harder than everybody else to show them I could do this.”

Haason Reddick with his parents Raymond Matthew and RaeLakia Reddick; Photo: Rob Schumacher/az central sports

That confidence and dedication, Reddick says, was supported by a foundation built by his parents. Their encouragement has been the stable factor throughout his rocky football career, ever since its start at Camden Little League.

According to Haason, they’re a big reason he gets to put on a Cardinals jersey. “Support from my parents and family kept me going,” he says. “I understood that if I really wanted something, I had to get it on my own.”

From Little League to the NFL, they were there to help him push forward – like the time Reddick’s father, Raymond Matthew, visited the Owl’s head coach with his son to negotiate a walk-on status. And when finances were holding Reddick back freshman year, his mom stepped in.

“The team and I, we would always be together for practice,” Reddick says. “But afterward, the team would eat together and I wouldn’t be with them because I didn’t have a meal plan, which made socializing impossible.”

While RaeLakia Reddick originally planned to save money early on to avoid hefty expenses toward the end of her son’s college career, plans changed once she heard about his difficulties. That year, she took out a loan to pay for a meal plan.

“I realized what was working for me wasn’t working for him, and I knew that by any means necessary, I had to change that,” RaeLakia says.

Little by little, Reddick chipped away at the doubters. And although Addazio asked him not to return for a second year, a change in command opened doors for the athlete.

With Matt Rhule taking the head coach position for the 2013 season and Reddick sliding into a new position as defensive end, the sophomore grabbed his opportunity.

“I knew I had to go out there and make plays in practice,” Reddick says. “That way, I would show up on film and the coaching staff could see me. That’s what I did when I got my chance, and my role continued to grow.”

Saying Reddick’s role simply grew is an understatement. By his senior year, Reddick was a dominating force – on and off the field. It started in the summer, when he finally earned a sports scholarship from Temple to shed his walk-on title.

That same summer, his teammates voted to give him a single-digit jersey (No. 7) – a sign of respect among Owls.

A phenomenal season followed. He had come a long way since his redshirt freshman season, recording 10.5 sacks and an interception during his final year. But most importantly, he earned an invitation to the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine and high expectations from commentators across the country.

“I wanted to go in there and put everything I had into it,” Reddick says. “I knew I would do well because I was prepared, I did what I planned to do.”

His preparation resulted in a 4.52-second 40-yard dash, the fastest among defensive line prospects, a 36.5-inch vertical jump and a 133-inch broad jump at the Combine. His performance catapulted him to the top of several NFL team’s wish lists.

Today, he dons Cardinals red and plays with the pros as an inside linebacker. “The biggest change is the pace,” Reddick says. “It’s much faster than college, and I’m constantly learning here. If I make a mistake, I just come back the next day and go even harder.”

Earning a starting position will take a lot of work, but that’s Reddick’s specialty. “I’m excited to bring every aspect of my game to this team,” he says. “Especially the way I hustle. I want to make an impact, no matter where it is, and help the team out.”

And while the 2,000-mile move could make some people homesick, says Reddick, he’s luckily not that type – and keeping in contact with his family has definitely helped. “Whether it’s by text or phone, I talk to my dad every day,” he says. “Just hearing his voice, or my mom’s, and knowing they’re OK makes things easier.”

Reddick says he will make sure the move doesn’t pull him too far from his roots. Like his dreams of football, he has big plans to give back to the place where he grew up.

When he has the resources and a stable platform, Reddick wants to start a foundation for the youth in Camden – it’s been his plan for years.

“Luckily for me, I had support that kept me on the straight and narrow path,” Reddick says.

“There are a lot of kids with talent in Camden, but without guidance, they sometimes fall into the streets. I want to be that person who gives the youth proper guidance and is a resource for them, whether they want to be an astronaut or a football player. That way, they can have the same opportunities I had.”

July 2017
Related Articles

Comments are closed.


Get SJ Mag in Your Inbox

Subscribe for the latest on South Jersey dining, weekend entertainment, the Shore and much more - sent directly to your inbox.

* indicates required
Email Format
WATCH NOW: Millennials looking for Mentors