Nazareth’s Garrett Reese finds ‘perfect fit,’ commits to Indiana

Reese helped Roadrunners win back-to-back state titles in fall

Nazareth’s Garrett Reese (2) is wrapped up by the St. Francis defense during the boys varsity football game on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 in La Grange Park, IL.

Nazareth’s Garrett Reese made a difficult decision after his freshman year that ended up changing his life.

Reese, a junior, had only played wide receiver his entire life, but his Roadrunner coaches told him he could become an elite defensive back with his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. The decision didn’t come easy, but Reese made the switch and dedicated himself to becoming one of the best secondary players in the area.

Reese’s trust in his coaches and commitment to improving himself paid off. He realized his committed to Indiana on Friday.

“I’m really excited to get out there for sure,” Reese said. “It’s been a dream of mine to play Big Ten ball. Indiana is a perfect fit for me.”

Reese’s recruitment picked up in December after California and Cincinnati became his first Power Four offers. They joined an offers list that included Mid-American Conference schools Miami (Ohio), Ball State and Akron, Toledo, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

But everything seemed to change when Indiana offered during a visit on Feb. 4. Reese and his family liked everything about the Hoosiers, including the campus, academics and new coaching staff.

Reese was impressed with new Hoosiers head coach Curt Cignetti’s vision for the program and liked what he had built at James Madison before. Reese also felt like the Indiana staff made him their No. 1 priority throughout the recruitment.

While Reese also considered California, Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati, everything pointed to Indiana.

“I loved it,” Reese said. “I loved the campus, how they develop their players, I love their strength and conditioning staff and how they develop their players, not just in body ways, but speed and mobility ways. I just really loved how they presented themselves to me.”

Nazareth's Garrett Reese (2) celebrates after winning against St. Francis at the boys varsity IHSA 5A semifinal between Nazareth Academy and St. Francis high school in La Grange Park, IL on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Reese was also happy with the timing of his decision. He said he knew some people might criticize him for rushing into a decision and not taking more time, but Reese said the transfer portal has changed the way high school recruits need to approach their recruitments.

“I feel like the transfer portal and all that has changed the way kids in high school have to think now,” Reese said. “You’re battling some in college and also battling against people in high school as well.”

247Sports lists Reese as a three-star athlete prospect, the 41st best prospect in Illinois’ Class of 2025. Reese had 45 tackles during his junior season, all solo, along with two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also caught 25 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown.

“I’m really excited to get out there for sure. It’s been a dream of mine to play Big Ten ball. Indiana is a perfect fit for me.”

—  Garrett Reese, Nazareth junior

Nazareth coach Tim Racki was proud to see Reese’s hard work and dedication rewarded. Racki said Reese’s game should translate well to the Big Ten as he continues to improve and gain more confidence.

“He’s going to be extremely versatile because of his size, his strength and his speed,” Racki said. “His body type alone, being a long defensive back that’s physical, is rare to come by.”

Reese is excited to be done with the recruiting process so he can focus on helping the Roadrunners win a third straight state championship. After taking a leap of faith after his freshman year, he’s grateful to be in the position he’s in.

“Just knowing you have somewhere to call home after high school is a great feeling,” Reese said. “It’s a lot of pressure lifted off of you, but you still have to perform.”