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.”
People are also reading…
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.”
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.”
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.”
Top high school football players: The Post-Dispatch Super 30 countdown 2023-24
STLHighSchoolSports.com is the most comprehensive source of stats, scores and stories from any and all area high schools.