North coach relishes Reyes’ NFL debut

NASHUA – Students, don’t be too loud in Jason Robie’s classes on Tuesday.

That’s because it might take Robie a little bit to get going. The Nashua North head football coach was going to do his best to stay up as late as possible on Monday night to experience something not every high school coach in the country gets to experience – watching one of their former players compete in the National Football League.

Monday’s 10 p.m. game between the San Diego Chargers at Oakland was the expected regular season professional debut for former North and University of Connecticut standout Kendall Reyes. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Reyes wasn’t expected to start on the Chargers’ defensive line but still play a big role in the defense (likely at end), especially in passing situations, for the team that drafted him in the second round – a team that has needed defensive help.

He was to be the first Nashuan to play in an NFL game since former unified Nashua High alum Kole Ayi did in 2002. Ayi played two years in the league, 13 games in all, for the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots.

Robie met with his team over the weekend and talked about Reyes and the excitement surround his debut.

“We’re excited, and we’re excited for him,” he said Monday. “We’re excited to see what he can do. He’ll be in packages, probably nickel and dime stuff. But if you hear (Chargers coach) Norv Turner’s comments and read between the lines, you can tell they see big things down the road for him.”

The coffee was to be plentiful for Robie, who said he went to bed early Sunday night so he could stay up for Monday’s second game of an ESPN doubleheader, which wasn’t expected to end before 1 a.m.

He had Titans football practice until 5, then was at his son’s soccer practice and was expected to be home just after eight, “get the kids to bed and then I’ll settle down and watch some football. I’m going to try to stay awake as long as I can.”

Robie said the feeling of seeing a player he coached play in the NFL would be “surreal.”

“Five or six years ago he was a kid who was playing here,” he said. “Now he’s on the big screen.”

Robie says that Reyes’ work ethic is what has gotten him this far, plus the ability to realize his potential.

“He’s an athletic kid who looked in the mirror and realized ‘I’m a good-sized kid. If I put the time in, I can make myself exceptional at my craft.’”

In the preseason, Reyes made nine tackles (five solo) with 1.5 quarterback sacks. But the fact he’s on the national stage in his first game is a big deal to Robie and the Titans.

“The fact that’s it’s “Monday Night Football” makes it even more exciting,” he said. “You find yourself cheering for him.

“We’re all New England Patriot fans, but now we’re all pretty big San Diego Charger fans as well.”