There are some things you notice about Spencer Reid and Skyler Mornhinweg. There are intangibles that say Reid and Mornhinweg have a foundation that’s unlike other high school football players their age, that say they pay attention better than other kids, that they have an appreciation of what hard work can bring and where it can lead.
Reid and Mornhinweg live football. Every day. It happens when you’re a son of an NFL coach. Reid and Mornhinweg will play key roles this coming season for St. Joseph’s Prep, one of the most prominent programs in Philadelphia.
Spencer, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior, is the youngest son of Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid and Skyler, a 6-3, 190-pound sophomore, is the oldest son of Eagles’ assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Skyler, who is leaning toward committing to a West Coast college already, started for the Hawks last season as a freshman, the second freshman to do so under Prep head coach Gil Brooks (the other was Victor Hobson, who went on to play for Michigan and currently plays for the Arizona Cardinals). Spencer is one of the strongest and fastest players on the Hawks, able to bench press 315 pounds and run a 4.47-second 40-yard dash.
Spencer has his father’s red hair—and has another Reid genetic trait.
“My speed, believe or it or not, comes from my father’s side,” said Spencer, who will get time at tailback or play cornerback. “One look at my dad and you wouldn’t think it would come from him, but it does.” Then Spencer let out a laugh, “My grandfather, my father’s father, was a track man.
“But people assume automatically that when you’re a coaches son, you’ll play football. I didn’t like football at all when I was younger. When I was five, six, seven, my brothers, Garrett and Britt, they’re the ones who got me out for football. But father never put any pressure on me to play football. It was always about doing something and being good at whatever it was I played. I loved soccer, but I was the kind of kid who was always running into people. My brothers led me to football.”
Spencer loved contact. He still does. He also has great vision with the ball in his hands.
“Spencer is an instinctive running back,” Brooks said. “Spencer didn’t miss a training session this summer, he’s a very hard worker. They both are. Spencer applies himself and the one thing is that both Spence and Sky are good kids, too. They’re from great families, so anyone can see why.
“But I think the things that stand out for me that tell you Spence and Sky are coaches’ kids is their respect for authority and a willingness to train. You give those guys instruction and they’re like sponges, they absorb everything and they can’t learn enough.”
Spencer has a distinct personality, a booming voice, like his old man’s, and a dry wit, also like Coach Reid. Spencer also absorbs everything he father says.
“I think the biggest things my father tells me is that no one will hand you anything,” Spencer said. “The funny thing is my father used to talk football and Xs and Os, really tried to break the game down to me when I was younger, and I’d look at him like he was speaking another language. I’m beginning to understand and realize what dad was talking about. I still make mistakes, but I’m willing to learn from those mistakes.”
Skyler is the product of two generations of coaches. His father and grandfather are members of the coaching fraternity.
“I remember ever since I was little, I was around my father and he was teaching me about the game, but I have to say my father never forced me to play,” said Sky, who was always tall for his age and is still growing. “I was always around the game, and when you’re around the game that much, you can go one of two ways—hate or love it. I love it. I love football.”
Sky has undeniable Division I size, an obvious work ethic, and something very special that could spell larger things for him.
“What I really like about Sky, that thing that really sets Sky apart from other kids his age for me is that he does things well when pressured,” Brooks said. “He does a nice job with reacting well to make plays. That’s a good characteristic. Being around the game at the highest level like he has helped that develop.”
Coach Reid and Coach Mornhinweg easily put in 60 to 70-hour work weeks during the season, but they rarely miss their sons playing, standing off away from the other parents in the stands, watching from a distance.
“Coach Reid and Coach Mornhinweg care tremendously about their kids,” Brooks said. “I believe parents should have a right to ask me about playing time and I’ve had some unreasonable years with parents. Parents do think differently, well, non-coaching parents think differently. With Coach Reid and Coach Mornhinweg, it’s easy to approach me and I welcome the interaction. But they’ll contact me because they want to know how their kids are doing. They’re very involved in their children’s lives. We never talk Xs and Os.”
But if Brooks needs anything, “Coach Reid is always asking if there is anything he can do for me, and the program. You can’t ask for better parents and families to be associated with your program.”
One time, as Prep was preparing to play New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, Brooks was thinking of implementing Florida’s spread offense. Coach Reid happened to be sitting in on a practice, watching from a distance as he usually does. The next time the Hawks met, Brooks was handed a pile of DVDs from Spencer.
“He said, ‘Here, my dad wanted you to have this,’” Brooks recalled. “It had everything Florida ever ran. You see kids like Spence and Sky, two grounded kids who constantly work hard, that comes not just from being coach’s sons. That comes from great character. The Reids and Mornhinwegs have it.”
Then Brooks recounted another story of Reid’s family. Last July, Brooks lost long-time freshman coach John Wagner Sr., who died of cancer at the age of 60. Wagner’s sons, Steve and John Jr., played for Brooks. Wagner Sr. coached Spencer as a freshman. When Wagner lost his job due to his illness, it was Andy Reid who hired him as a personal assistant.
“The Reids didn’t want any fanfare for it, plus I really think it helped Wags stay alive a little longer, it was something he really looked forward to and was a very big part of his life,” Brooks said. “The Reids reached out to this man and that’s the type of thing the Reids did just to help out someone in need. Andy is a quality human being and I’ve seen it in a lot of ways that kind of go under the water. It’s no wonder Spence and Sky are the way they are. These are the kind of people they come from.” Joseph Santoliquito covers high schools for the Philadelphia Daily News and is a frequent contributor to MaxPreps.com. He can be contacted at JSantoliquito@yahoo.com.