BOCA RATON, Fla. (WDBJ7) -- The Orange Bowl will be Bronco Mendenhall's third straight bowl game as Virginia's head coach. That's something that might not have seemed possible four years ago.
His seniors bought in and believed. It's led to what Mendenhall refers to as unbroken growth.
"They're the pioneers of this era of UVA football. Yeah, they were part of 2-10. Now they're part of the Orange Bowl. They're proud of their accomplishments, but I've also heard comments from them to our first years of... it's not right that you started with the Orange Bowl and we started 2 and 10," Mendenhall said. "There's a message that's being sent to them like they're soft because they're not having to go through what they went through, but they're saying it in a teasing way, and in also like a self-confirming way that we've helped this to where you don't have to go through that phase."
Joe Reed is an elite receiver who leads the Cavaliers in receptions and receiving touchdowns, but returning kicks is his specialty. He's taken four back for TDs this year and his 3,010 return yards are tops at Virginia all time.
"When you have eleven guys screaming down at you, you have to have that mindset of I'm fearless and I can break through all of these tackles and I can just do whatever," Reed said. "It's definitely a mindset. It's not for everybody. Not everybody wants to do it but I love it."
"He is an extremely determined person, very focused and a goal setter, someone who would commit to a hard process and that's exactly what he did," Robert Anae, Virginia Offensive Coordinator, said of Reed.
Reed and his friends often got bored growing up in Charlotte Courthouse outside football, so he took up an interesting hobby known as frog gigging.
"It gets dark and we get on the Jon boat, which is a two- to three-person boat unless there's more of us. We have a gig with three prongs on the end of it, and a flashlight. We just go to the pond and flash the light on the frogs. When you flash the light, it paralyzes the frog and you just stab them. After we get two or three buckets full, we go fry them. Not the whole frog, just the legs," Reed said.
Reed hopes to do some Gator gigging Monday night, and he will don his number two jersey for the final time as a Hoo, something he's done to honor his late best friend from high school, Colton Osborne who died in an ATV accident during Joe's freshman year.
"I wear number two as a tribute to him, just thanking him for being with me throughout all these years," said Reed.
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