PULLMAN — After players from Simeon Career Academy solemnly recited the Lord’s Prayer, kneeling in front of Demarius Reed’s blue-and-gold No. 2 jersey, they shouted his nickname and stormed out of a huddle, preparing to take on Foreman High.
"Do it for D-Reed!" parents yelled from behind a fence as their kids took the field.
Reed, a former standout at Simeon, was found shot to death inside an Ypsilanti, Mich., apartment complex Friday morning. Police said the Eastern Michigan University junior wide receiver may have been robbed before he was shot multiple times. No one is in custody, police said.
During his high school career, ESPN.com ranked Reed, 20, as the 64th best cornerback in the country, and Rivals.com said he was the 43rd best prospect in Illinois, according to the Eastern Michigan Eagles website. He was "very agile and aggressive on the field," his player bio said.
Reed’s death hung over the Wolverines’ final regular-season game at Gately Stadium in Pullman.
Halitha Jones said her son, Christopher, a Simeon senior, looked up to Reed. In his final game for the Wolverines, Jones said she wanted her son “go out there and play your best, just play for him.”
"Every time you turn around it seems like it's something happening to one of these kids. Whether they're 16 or 20, it still is his home and it's hard especially at a school like Simeon, where all of the athletes are very close," Jones said. "It’s a tight-knit group, athletically and academically."
Christopher Jones is considering attending Eastern Michigan, she said.
Reed’s father, Carl, spoke to reporters before the game, saying he came to the stadium to honor his son’s memory, as Simeon players dedicated the game in his memory.
“It really hurt, but at the same time I’m appreciative,” he said.
Monica Smith said her son, who is on the football team, called her several times today crying after he learned about Reed's death.
"He was very distraught at school today. He got the message and the team is just torn up because this is someone who they played with all the time. He comes back to play with them. He was their mentor," Smith said. "He was just a good all around guy and for this to happen its really torn up the team. I’m praying that these kids be strong enough to make it through the game tonight."
Reed was recalled as a locker-room leader for the Eagles. He was the starting wide receiver, averaging 12.3 yards on 15 receptions. The university announced Saturday's game against Ohio University will go on as scheduled.
"The EMU family has suffered an unbelievable loss today. Demarius was an influential leader who thrived in the classroom and on the field. Everyone gravitated to him and often described him as the 'life of the locker room.' Our hearts go out to Demarius' family. We are doing all we can to help and support them along with the rest of our student-athletes," said EMU athletic director Heather Lyke.
On Friday, in front of a crowd numbering the dozens, Reed’s younger brother, a freshman who followed him into football, was inserted into the game late in the first quarter.
Foreman kicked off to a Simeon receiver who tossed the ball to the freshman. He ran for 20 yards. Simeon topped Foreman, 44-0.