De Smet’s Caleb Redd hopes to build on breakout season sacking quarterbacks

De Smet defensive end Caleb Redd talks about the upcoming season and his future prospects. Video by Allie Schallert, [email protected]
John Merritt is happy he doesn’t have to go up against or try to game plan for Caleb Redd.“He’s a menacing force in a high school football game and I’m glad he’s on our team and we don’t have to play against him,” said Merritt, the De Smet football coach. “It’s hard enough playing against him every day in practice.”Redd is one of the area’s elite talents in the Class of 2024 and the 6-foot-4, 228-pound defensive end is the No. 5 recruit on the Post-Dispatch Super 30 countdown of the area’s top senior college football prospects.“I’ve been playing (defensive line) since Little League, but I didn’t really take D-line seriously,” Redd said. “I was trying to play safety. But then I took D-line serious my freshman year. I’d say after my freshman season I had a big growth spurt.”

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Redd had a solid sophomore campaign with 45 tackles and six quarterback sacks, but he broke out in a big way last season as a junior with 63 tackles and 21 sacks, which was a total that led not only led the St. Louis area but the entire state of Missouri.“You don’t lead the state in sacks by accident. He’s really good,” Merritt said. “In my 30 years now, I’ve only coached two players that have gotten more than 20 sacks in a season. That’s a remarkable thing. He’s a special, special talent. And he did that his junior year. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s faster, he’s smarter than a year ago.”

De Smet defensive end Caleb Redd (right) is No. 5 on the 2023 Post-Dispatch Super 30 preseason football recruiting countdown. Redd has verbally committed to play for Kentucky. Last season he had 63 tackles and 21 sacks. Photo by Arthur H. Trickett-Wile, [email protected]

Redd credits his fellow defensive linemates, senior Michael Phillips (five sacks last year) and junior Quincy Byas (14 sacks), for being a big part of his success.“Playing across from Mike Phillips and players like that makes my job way easier than it is,” he said. “If you ask me, it’s really the people I’m on the defensive line with like Quincy Byas. When he’s rushing, the quarterback rolls out my way, so it’s easier to make a sack. And the same for him. We pretty much all play as a team.”Merritt agreed the rest of the Spartans’ line helps Redd be even more successful.“He plays on the same defensive line as Mike Phillips, who I think is the best defensive tackle in town, and Mike demands a double-team,” Merritt said. “If you don’t double-team Mike, he’s just gonna wreck the whole interior. So, a lot of times Redd gets to be one-on-one on the edge.“Our defensive line had 70 sacks last year as a unit. That’s because, if you double one of them, the other ones are just too good. He saw that last year against some of the best tackles at CBC, East St. Louis, Lee’s Summit North and IMG, and he had multiple sacks in all those games.”Redd is also excited to have the same coaching staff in place for a second consecutive season for the first time in his four years at De Smet.“Pretty much all three years, I’ve had a different coaching staff,” he said. “I feel like it’s gonna help a lot knowing that we’ve got the same coaching staff. We’ve built a good bond with these coaches, so I feel like we’re gonna do good.”

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East St. Louis Flyers sophomore Larevious Woods (26) gets stopped by De Smet Spartans junior Caleb Redd (9) keeping him from getting a first down during a game on Friday October 21, 2022 at De Smet Jesuit High School in Creve Coeur, MO. Rick Ulreich, Special to

Working with that same staff, plus his incredible measurables, are huge in Redd’s development this season for a Spartans team that finished 7-6 last season and advanced to the Class 6 semifinals.“His speed is unbelievable (low 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and then he’s added strength,” Merritt said. “Our defensive line coach, Coach (Terrance) Poe, is a master technician and Caleb has really taken to a lot of those techniques. So, he’s got a variety of pass rush moves, combined with elite speed, elite speed and really top-notch strength. That’s tough on offensive lines.”Redd will hope to make it tough on offensive lines in the Southeastern Conference next season after he verbally committed to Kentucky, whose offer beat out at least 20 other schools including USC, Oklahoma and Kansas State.“I knew about the SEC my whole life and I always wanted to play in it, so it was big for me knowing I could play in the SEC,” he said. “When I went on my OVs (official visits), the players treated me well and Coach (Frank) Buffano treated me like I’m a part of his family. I feel like I can be a good part of the scheme.”Merritt feels Reed’s length, speed and athleticism will be a perfect fit for what the Wildcats like to do.“I’m excited about him and his commitment to Kentucky. I think that’ll be a great home for him,” Merritt said. “That’s a coaching staff that will really care about him and treat him the right way and set him up hopefully for the things he wants to do for the rest of his life.”

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Top high school football players: The Post-Dispatch Super 30 countdown 2023-24

Take a tour of our countdown of the top senior college football prospects in the St. Louis area.Join us each day as we unveil new selections through Aug. 23. Dec. 20 is the earliest date players in the class of 2024 can sign binding letters of intent with NCAA Division I and Division II schools.

No. 5: Caleb Redd, DE, De SmetREAD MORE: De Smet’s Caleb Redd hopes to build on breakout season sacking quarterbacksVERBAL: KentuckyOFFERS: Arizona, Ball State, Cincinnati, Kansas, Kansas State, Illinois State, Iowa, Iowa State, Lindenwood, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Missouri State, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Purdue, UNLV, USC, Wisconsin.

No. 6: LeonTre Bradford, DB, East St. LouisREAD MORE: LeonTre Bradford’s defensive prowess brings smiles to East St. Louis fansVERBAL: PurdueOFFERS: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Ball State, Illinois, Iowa State, Indiana, Louisville, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Syracuse, UNLV, Wisconsin. 

No. 7: Demetrius Jones, DL, Lutheran NorthREAD MORE: Lutheran North’s Demetrius Jones takes injury in stride, commits to LindenwoodVERBAL: LindenwoodOFFERS: Ball State, Colorado, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Marshall, Miami-Ohio, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, SIU Carbondale, Southeast Missouri State and UNLV

No. 8: Joseph Anderson, DE, WestminsterREAD MORE: Westminster’s Joseph Anderson blazes his own path on defensive side of ballVERBAL: IowaOFFERS: Army, Ball State, Bowling Green, Colgate, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kent State, Lindenwood, Miami (Ohio), Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee State, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wyoming.

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No. 9: Jude James, WR, Francis HowellREAD MORE: Versatility a major plus for Francis Howell’s athletic Jude JamesVERBAL: MissouriOFFERS: Army, Ball State, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Kansas State, Lindenwood, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Missouri State, Navy, North Dakota State, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Southeast Missouri, Toledo, UNLV, Wyoming.

No. 10: Jacobi Oliphant, DB, SLUHREAD MORE: SLUH’s Jacobi Oliphant overcomes sudden growth spurt to become lockdown defenderOFFERS: Alabama A&M, Alcorn State, Arkansas State, Ball State, Boston College, Connecticut, Lindenwood, Miami (Ohio), Morgan State, Murray State, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Prairie View A&M, Wyoming.

No. 12: Davis Schukar, OL, MICDSREAD MORE: Davis Schukar displays versatility along offensive line for MICDSOFFERS: Air Force, Amherst, Army, Bowdoin, Bryant, Bucknell, Butler, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, Colby, Colgate, Denison, Georgetown, Hamilton, Lindenwood, Middlebury, Navy, Washington University.

No. 13: Brandon Mason, OL-DL, Hazelwood CentralREAD MORE: Hazelwood Central lineman Brandon Mason makes move to defense from offenseOFFERS: Ball State, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana State, Kent State, Lindenwood, Miami (Ohio), Murray State, North Carolina Central, Northern Iowa, SIU Carbondale, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee Martin, Tennessee State, UNLV.

No. 17: Jesse Watson, WR, East St. LouisREAD MORE: Jesse Watson makes all the right moves with switch to receiver for East St. LouisVERBAL: PurdueOFFERS: Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Toledo, UNLV, Western Michigan

No. 20: Jonah Logan, OL, VashonREAD MORE: Vashon’s Jonah Logan committed to excellence and is seeing the payoffOFFERS: Arkansas, Arkansas State, Ball State, Central Methodist, Lindenwood, Marshall, Murray State, Northern Iowa, UNLV is the most comprehensive source of stats, scores and stories from any and all area high schools.

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