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D.J. Reader: From pitcher to defensive tackle

The annual mid-summer classic known as the MLB All-Star Game is tonight and there will be a ton of different players.

There's 5-5 Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.

There's 6-3, 235 lb. Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

But, you know what you won't find or see on Tuesday evening? A 330 pound relief pitcher. Former Clemson star defensive tackle D.J. Reader decided that football was in his future.

As I spent the day around some of the best college football media in Birmingham, AL for SEC Media Days, I ran into Andy Staples from Sports Illustrated and and asked his thoughts about the Texans 2016 rookies. When I mentioned Reader's name, he lit up.

"Can you imagine seeing that guy at 330 pounds on the pitching mound?" Staples queried.

Reader missed the first six games of the 2015 season after adversity struck his family and he wasn't sure that he wanted to continue to play football.

"When he came back, though, he was outstanding. He was able to keep Christian Wilkins and Carlos Watkins at bay and out of the starting lineup. That says something because those guys are going to be incredible." Staples noted.

Wilkins and Watkins could be first round talents at some point in the future, but in 2015, once Reader returned, they played alongside, or behind him. By the post-season, Reader was a force in the middle. Not in the way that penetrating 4-3 DTs like former Nebraska star Ndamukong Suh or former Oklahoma star Gerald McCoy were back in the day. Reader's ability to hold the point of attack and keep blockers away from linebackers Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson allowed those two to run to the ball unabated.

"In the final three games, Reader was outstanding." Staples pointed out.

You had to watch closely though, because his production wasn't so much in the numbers but what he allowed those linebackers and his fellow defenders to do. He was a rock in the middle of the defense, even in a national championship game loss to Alabama. That momentum built up until the Senior Bowl where he was one of the most impressive players on the field every single day.

No one really talked about Reader during OTAs and minicamp because, well, it's not where linemen have the chance to shine. But, Reader left an impression on those that covered him, like Staples, over the years while at Clemson. Oh, and the pads go on in training camp soon. Then, Texans fans will find out all about him.

And, if the Astros need some relief help...well, they can't have him.

The Texans took Clemson NT D.J. Reader in the 5th round with the 166th overall pick.

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