Steve Reese was one of three Thomson Bulldogs in the ’80s to go on to stellar college football careers with the Clemson Tigers. James Farr and Jessie Hatcher shared that honor.
Reese was a three-year starter for coach Bill Reese’s Thomson Bulldogs. As a sophomore in 1979, his team won the first region championship for Thomson since 1971 when it defeated Glenn Hills in a playoff rematch after losing to the Spartans in the regular season.
A young Bulldog team lost in the region championship game to the Washington County Golden Hawks in 1980, Reese’s junior year. He entered the 1981 season as one of the most highly recruited offensive linemen in the state. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 250 pounds, Reese was one of the first Thomson linemen to be recruited in the era of the “big” linemen, according to coach Reese. He might even have been the first of that number.
His coach characterized Reese as a low-key, dependable team player who always worked hard to do his best. His senior campaign started terribly for the Bulldogs. While Reese and linebacker Michael Tate led a stout defense, the Bulldog offense was very young, and the team started the season 1-4. Unlike many teams facing this kind of adversity, the coaching staff and the team refused to quit and finished the season with five straight wins.
Unfortunately, this was the last year before the Georgia High School Association adopted a four-team region playoff, and the Bulldogs finished third and were left out. A 7-6 loss to Swainsboro early in the season cost the Bulldogs a playoff spot and Thomson, which was arguably the best team in the region at season’s end, finished the season with a 6-4 record.
Steve’s career was far from over. He was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-State team and after being offered several opportunities to further his career by several major colleges, signed a scholarship with Clemson. There, after playing in 10 games as a freshman, he won a starting job in his sophomore year and started seven of the 11 games opposite fellow Thomson alumnus Farr. The Tigers finished 9-1-1 in that 1983 season, but NCAA probation prevented them from participating in a bowl game.
Reese’s junior season and senior seasons were somewhat disappointing from the team standpoint as the effects of a severe reduction in scholarships instituted by the probation of 1982 and 1983 took its toll on the Tigers’ roster. Clemson finished the 1984 season with a 7-4 record. While the 1985 season ended with a 6-6 season, Reese’s individual accomplishments were impressive. He was named team co-captain, had 82 knockdown or pancake blocks and finished with 166 for his career. He was also named first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference that season.
Steve signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins, but decided not to pursue a career in football. He entered the field of law enforcement.
Today, he is employed with the Washington State Prison located in Davisboro, Ga. He is a captain with the Correctional Emergency Response Team. Steve Reese, like many former Bulldogs, has gone on to a successful career and serves the people of his state well in what can be a dangerous situation.