There was a time in Cody Reesman's life when football almost became an afterthought.
Reesman loved the sport ever since he was a toddler, and was ecstatic when he became old enough to play for the Howland Little Tigers. However, when he tipped the scales at 185 pounds as a fourth-grader, league officials believed that his size posed a danger to other players.
For three years, Reesman had to sit on the sidelines until junior high football afforded him an opportunity to be part of the action.
"My feelings were hurt. Then a friend got me into wrestling and I became so wrapped up in that, I almost forgot about football altogether," Reesman said. "I almost considered just sticking with the one sport."
Luckily for Howland fans, Reesman opted to give football a second chance.
As a sophomore, Reesman earned a starting spot on the Tigers' varsity team and was an instant success. He recorded 67 tackles (12 behind the line of scrimmage) and recovered three fumbles. Last season, Reesman was credited with 75 tackles and was a second-team All-Ohio selection.
Now entering his senior year, Reesman vows he is ready to take his game to an even higher level.
"It kind of hit me at practice one day that this is it. I'll never play high school football again," Reesman said. "I have some great memories of my first two years but I know my senior season is what I'll mostly look back on. I want to make it one to remember."
Considering the way Reesman closed out his 2009 campaign, there is no reason to believe that he won't live up to his own lofty expectations. In Howland's opening-round playoff game against Medina Highland, Reesman recorded 18 tackles (including five sacks) and recovered a fumble all while playing with a torn ACL.
"My doctor really didn't want me to play, but I was very close to last year's senior class and I didn't want to let them down," Reesman said. "It was tough. With the injury I lost all control of my kneecap. But I did my best to try and block it out."
Reesman eventually had surgery on Dec. 14, forcing him to miss wrestling season. As a sophomore he was a state qualifier.
Within days of his surgery, Reesman was going through a rigorous physical therapy regimen. He noted that he was so worried that he might drop on the football depth chart that he spent the off-season running and lifting "like never before."
Today, the 6-foot-1, 285-pound Reesman is running faster, jumping further and lifting more weight than he was a year ago.
Howland coach Dick Angle said that Reesman's recovery is more remarkable than anything he has accomplished on the football field.
"Cody comes to play, and he doesn't let anything get in his way," Angle said. "His work ethic is incredible. The doctors were in awe of the way he quickly recovered from the surgery. But knowing Cody, it wasn't much of a surprise to us coaches."
After playing the defensive tackle position for the past two years, Reesman is expected to be moved to nose tackle this fall. While the move might result in less tackles, Reesman says the change "is best for the team," and he looks forward to a new challenge.
"If I can create some havoc on the inside and force a couple of blockers my way, that will free up our tackles," Reesman said. "I don't care who makes the stop. It's all about the defense shutting down the other team.
"As long as I know I'm doing my job, I'm good with it."