2009-11-27 / Sports

Hard Working Rey Makes Difference On The Field

By Robert Karpeles

Duke senior linebacker Vincent Rey (left) makes a tackle against the Maryland Terrapins. Photo courtesy of Duke University. Duke senior linebacker Vincent Rey (left) makes a tackle against the Maryland Terrapins. Photo courtesy of Duke University. The night before each game, Duke University senior linebacker Vincent Rey, a Far Rockaway native, sits in bed and envisions himself making big plays.

"For me, visualization is extremely important," said Rey.

It is that self-discipline that has helped Rey in his success at Duke thus far. At 22-years-of-age, Rey garnered ACC Player of the Week honors after helping the Blue Devils to a 17-13 victory over Maryland on October 26 and is the only active player in the ACC to have recorded 100 or more tackles in each of the past two seasons.

Against Maryland, Duke had a 17-13 lead with 6:28 left to play in the fourth quarter, when Rey instinctively intercepted a pass from Terrapin quarterback Chris Turner.

"We went over that play in practice," said Rey.

In Rey's freshmen and sophomore years, Duke had a combined record of 1-23. But while that was a low point, Rey never gave up on the program that was the only school to offer him a scholarship.

"He never gets too high or too low," said Duke's linebacker coach, Jim Collins, who said that Rey is the most focused athlete he has ever coached.

So while last Saturday's loss to number seven rank - ed Georgia Tech terminated Duke's chances at a bowl game, they are 5-5 this season, which is the exact number of wins Duke has had in Rey's first three years.

Rey has also been an inspiration for his younger teammates.

"Coach [David] Cutliffe once told me that you want to leave a place better than you found it," said Rey. "When I speak to the young guys they can feel the excitement."

During team meetings, if players are jittery, Rey uses his New York charm to tell a joke.

Last March, Rey played Bottom, an erratic character in Shakespeare's, "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It was a role he enjoyed because it allowed him to play a character so unlike himself.

Rey grew up in Arverne. His family moved to Bays - water when Rey was 11, along with his brothers, Victor, 19, and Shaunte, 32.

From the age of 5, Rey read books and always had an imagination; whenever he saw a sewer he thought Ninja Turtles were underneath it.

At 8 years old, Rey could not play Pop Warner football because he was over-weight, yet he still sat on the sideline to watch his team, the Panthers, play. Afterwards, Rey became extremely methodical about what he put into his body. He got into shape with the coaching help of his father, Lemuel Rey, a train engineer. He went on to play the next season.

During his adolescence, Rey played football with friends at Bayswater Park, hung out at the Full Gos - pel Tabernacle Church in Long Island and worked odd end jobs cutting grass and tutoring.

"Whatever you asked him to do he did," said Rey's mother, who is a college guidance counselor.

Rey played high school football at Bayside, Queens, and was named to the all-city team and all-academic team by the New York PSAL Football Coaches Association.

After a big game against Northwestern University in his sophomore year at Duke, Rey felt like he finally peaked, not because of his statistical performances but because of his mindset. "I felt like I was starting to play disciplined," said Rey.

In his junior year, Rey shed seven inches of body fat. Heading into his senior year, Rey was criticized by the Duke student newspaper, The Chronicle, which said he would not be able to read defenses as well as last year's senior, All America Michael Tauiliili. Rey has answered his critics so far by leading Duke with 82 tackles this season.

Currently, Rey is on the outside looking in on the 2010 NFL draft, which takes place next April. But if his NFL dream dies, Rey plans to use his head to be a teacher. Overall, Rey does not want to talk about the future until after his last two games.

"I don't like to give things lip service," said Rey.

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