There are 94 days until MACtion returns. Until then, we count the days.
Maybe the best part about Akron’s football team heading into 2018, to defend its Mid-American Conference East division crown, is having almost the entire starting defense back together. Even with Chuck Amato, 71, retired from coaching football, having eight starters return on this side of the ball should play up to the Zips’ benefit.
Of the returning defensive starters that have received some praise and publicity at Akron, defensive end Brian Reinke is not one of them.
Reinke, who wears No. 94 for the Zips, returns as a senior defensive end, opposite side of Jamal Davis, who transferred from Pittsburgh and had a breakout year. Unlike Davis, Reinke was an unranked recruit out of high school (Akron, Ohio; Copley) but was a full-year starter last year as a junior. In the seasons leading up to 2017, Reinke was redshirted, played one game as a freshman then was mostly a special teams contributor as a sophomore.
Last year, Reinke recorded 48 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries and broke up one pass. On a per-game basis, Reinke usually tallied four or five tackles in any given contest. Reinke is listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds.
Reinke hasn’t been a stud for Akron, but I’m a sucker for experience leading into bigger moments as a senior. Optimism’s something worth banking on this time of year because it’s still May and football is still [just over] three months away.
Reinke doesn’t have the speed like other defensive ends in the league and his game is mostly tailored to him trying to out-muscle the tackles. Akron’s defense was inconsistent last year and was in the bottom-half of the league by all accounts. If Akron has any reliable shot at making another appearance in Detroit for the conference title, then players like Reinke are going to have to step up in some areas. If this defensive end can figure out a way to make more plays in the backfield, then that should at least put opposing offenses in more difficult passing downs, which theoretically should give the Zips a better passing defense than the one that gave up 237.4 yards through the air, per game, last year.