Home Local Sports Salesianum School grads, NFL players Troy Reeder, Brian O’Neill return home for...

Salesianum School grads, NFL players Troy Reeder, Brian O’Neill return home for kids football clinic

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Troy Reeder (lower left), Darnell Savage (wearing mask) and Brian O'Neill (lower right) take a photo with the boys and girls who attended their football skills clinic June 17 at the Chase Fieldhouse. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The sun reflected off the field turf at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, but that didn’t seem to matter to the dozens of youngsters sweating their way through a Friday morning. When you’re working on controlling a loose football with Delaware native and current Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Troy Reeder, the temperature is the farthest thing from your mind.

Reeder, who won a Super Bowl last year with the Los Angeles Rams, joined fellow Delawareans and National Football League players Brian O’Neill and Darnell Savage on June 17 in presenting a free skills clinic at the fieldhouse, which also happens to be the home of Titus Sports. The trio spent much of their younger years working out at Titus, and they wanted to give back to their home state.

Troy Reeder jokes with a few of the youngsters who attended the free football skills clinic at the Chase Fieldhouse. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

“This kind of stuff is super-important to me,” said Reeder, a graduate of Salesianum School who signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Delaware. “When I was growing up, this was the kind of stuff I was trying to find and do, and surround myself with guys like Darnell and Brian and figure out what it took to get there because that was my dream. I just really believe in the Titus process. It helped me get to where I wanted to go.”

O’Neill, who graduated from Salesianum a year before Reeder, earned his first trip to the NFL Pro Bowl after the 2021 season. A fixture at right tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, he was thrilled with the turnout and with putting the boys and girls through drills that included running, catching and a standing high jump.

The energy that the kids brought was impressive, said O’Neill, a second-round pick by the Vikings out of Pittsburgh.

“It was great to be able to talk to them in between drills, too. I found that enjoyable, just getting to hear their personalities outside the actual football drills we were doing,” he said.

All three have become involved in their adopted communities and at home in Delaware. For example, Reeder is involved with the B+ Foundation in Delaware, which assists families affected by childhood cancer, and O’Neill has volunteered with Special Olympics in the Twin Cities.

Savage, who attended Caravel Academy, was a first-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Maryland. A safety, he has started all 46 games in which he has appeared in his three-year career. His community involvement has included raising money for the Salvation Army.

Those three are not the only Delaware products succeeding in the NFL. Chris Godwin, a Middletown High School graduate, and Bilal Nichols, an alumnus of Hodgson Vo-Tech, are also thriving in the professional ranks.

O’Neill, who played Catholic Youth Ministry football for St. Mary Magdalen, said an event like the skills clinic could help other Delaware kids reach their goals of playing in high school, college or even the pros.

Brian O’Neill signs a water bottle following the football skills clinic at the Chase Fieldhouse. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

“I don’t remember this many Delaware athletes playing on the big stage when I was growing up and idolizing guys in high school and the few who would go on and play college,” he said. “There’s a lot of talent here, and there’s a lot of opportunities now. It’s easier to be recruited. It’s easier to be seen, and I think people are starting to realize a lot of talented players come from Delaware. I hope that it continues, and that kids here believe that they can play.”

Reeder, who spent his CYM years playing for Holy Angels, said the Delaware guys always tried to help each other out. When one would meet with a college recruiter, they’d suggest a trip to another high school to check out someone else.

“We kind of helped each other out. Now we get to do the jersey swaps on Sunday, and there’s just nothing cooler than that,” he said.

Their NFL careers started with a dream, some determination and a love of the game, he continued. They were fortunate to be able to train at Titus and were happy to finally be able to have the clinic. During the height of the covid pandemic, Reeder said, safety protocols made an event like this almost impossible to pull off.

“Now we can finally put on something like this, and I hope it’s like this for years to come,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re coming from. They all have the same goal of getting better, and I hope we did that today in some capacity.”