TROY – Ready for the dirt on Southern Miss? Ready for some real bulletin board material before this week’s Troy-USM game? Ready to get the scoop from somebody who knows all about the Golden Eagles?
Reid Rials fires this zinger: “It’s a great school,” Troy’s graduate transfer said after a recent practice. “I still have a lot of life-long friends over there, guys who I still talk to every single day.”
Bang. Right between the eyes.
Then this: “No ill will towards them or vice versa. They were very supportive. I think that whole program would say they’re happy for me.”
OK, so maybe Rials needs to work on his trash talk. That’s never been his style, though. The son of Luverne High head coach Scott Rials, Reid played quarterback for his dad at Satsuma High and was an all-state punter for the Gators his senior season.
He was a verbal commitment to nearby South Alabama, but a late recruiting pitch flipped him to Hattiesburg, Miss., instead.
That pitch was delivered by then-USM offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
“He’s a great kid, a coach’s kid,” Lindsey said. “I signed him when I was at Southern Miss. He’s the kind of guy that you want in your program. He was a high school quarterback, so I knew he was smart.”
Reid threw for nearly 4,000 yards in high school, rushed for almost 800 yards and added more than 400 yards receiving. He recorded touchdowns passing, rushing, receiving and via punt return and interception return.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Rials redshirted his first season in 2015. In 2016, the redshirt freshman made six appearances for the Golden Eagles, mostly on special teams, and earned academic honors from Conference USA.
In 2017 he played in all 13 games for USM and was the holder on extra points and field goals. He also recorded a special teams tackle. Last season, Rials appeared in six games, again mostly on special teams.
“I wanted to get my degree from there,” Rials said. “Then this past summer, after I had my degree, I wanted to come back closer to home. I think it was time for a change for me as far as getting back home. Being in Mississippi for four years, just getting back to Alabama has been real nice for me.”
With Scott now at Luverne, Troy looked more like the place Reid wanted to finish his playing career.
“My sister, Kayla, lives in Troy. She was a cheerleader here. My whole family graduated from Troy, so it kind of feels like home,” Rials said. “I wanted to have my last year back home, so to speak.”
Not to mention there was a connection to Troy’s new head coach.
“I definitely kept up with him throughout his career,” the player said of Lindsey. “He’s one of the top coaches in the country, in my opinion. Any guy who gets to play for him, I think, it’s a privilege. I’m just happy to be here and playing for him, for sure.”
An added benefit: His dad got to see him play in both of Troy's preseason scrimmages.
Lindsey said the graduate transfer route made Rials an easy take.
“He was looking to do something different,” the coach said. “He earned his degree and earned that opportunity. And just luckily, we were in need, too. Everything worked out. It’s been good to get him here.”
It came with a position change. Rials is contributing on special teams and has taken on a position change to receiver.
“Coach Lindsey likes to preach whatever it takes, so I just want to help the team in whatever capacity he asks me,” Rials said. “This Troy University team, they’ve accepted me with open arms. They’ve been awesome in this transition period. All these guys have been really great to me.”
He said he wasn’t surprised by the quality of players at Troy.
“This is a deep team. This is one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, for sure. I couldn’t be more excited,” Rials said.
He noted the veterans and the newcomers – freshmen and transfers alike – have bonded quickly.
“All the guys, they’ve really rallied together. I feel like as soon as I got here, I didn’t miss a beat with any of these guys,” he said. “They kind of took me in. Dylan Bradshaw took me under his wing. It’s been a great experience for me. This is a good culture.”
He said he’s looking forward to this week’s game against his former team.
“I’m excited to see those guys. I haven’t seen them in a few months now, just to see how they’re doing,” Rials said. “They’ve got a good football team, too. It’s going to be a good test for us to see where we’re at for the year. I couldn’t be more excited for it.”