On Monday in Norfolk it got up to a balmy 74 degrees as the sun kissed the city that inches toward the Atlantic Ocean. One of the area’s natives stood before media members in Charlottesville and delivered what figures to be one of his final press conferences as a University of Virginia football player as Senior Night approaches.
“I’ve learned to channel my emotions a lot,” he said, “especially throughout the game, and before the game, preparing for the game.”
On Monday in Solon, Ohio, things dipped to a frigid 35 degrees as rays struggled to push through the gray clouds that encompassed the sky in this town that sits mere minutes from Lake Erie. It, too, had a proud son facing his last line of questioning from curious reporters in John Paul Jones Arena.
“I’m getting pretty emotional,” he said with a grin. “I’m going to miss you guys.”
In reality, however, they’ll truly miss each other.
At 7:30 p.m., tonight, fans can flock to Scott Stadium to see the final home game in the careers of two Cavaliers that couldn’t come from more different backgrounds.
But couldn’t be happier to be sharing the field with one another.
La’Roy Reynolds, a product of the talent-rich 757. Steve Greer, the pride of the Buckeye State.
Long and rangy. Tough and gritty. A play-maker. A tackle machine. From the weak-side. From up the gut.
The compare and contrast essay on Reynolds and Greer could turn into a lengthy one.
“Me and Greer,” Reynolds said. “Salt and pepper.”
But mixed together, chemistry has been found.
UVa (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will take on North Carolina (6-4, 3-3), tonight, headlined by its fourth-year complementary linebackers.
As far as active defensive duos in the ACC are concerned, the Reynolds-Greer combination is third in tackles with 473 since 2010. By himself, Greer is the league individual leader in stops.
But don’t measure this odd couple in stats. They’d rather you looked at the nature of their unique relationship.
Courtesy of the sport they play, Reynolds and Greer have been forever bound together.
“Me and him are like inseparable, especially on the field,” Reynolds said. “I know we’re totally different in character, but our mind is completely the same as far as preparing and how bad he wants to win and how bad I want to win. I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else in the middle.”
Said Greer: “I think we look at each other as brothers. We have fun being out there together.”
But it didn’t start like that.
In 2009, Reynolds and Greer rarely were associated with each other. Reynolds was a safety during practices and on special teams during game days, making just six tackles. Greer, meanwhile, was already beginning to write his UVa linebacker legacy. The redshirt freshman totaled 92 stops, the seventh most by a Wahoo rookie in program history.
“My first year, since he played linebacker, we weren’t communicating like that,” Reynolds said. “The team wasn’t really as tight as it is now. I rarely really even talked to Greer my first year.”
But Mike London replaced Al Groh as the Virginia head coach in 2010 and Reynolds was switched to the linebacker room.
Together, the two accounted for 125 tackles. London had his duo for the future.
As juniors, Reynolds and Greer each enjoyed the ride of Virginia’s 8-5 season, a campaign that had the Cavs in a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
There was Greer getting 10 stops in UVa’s 24-21 upset of No. 12 Georgia Tech on Oct. 15. There was Reynolds halting Miami’s Mike James on a late fourth-and-2 to preserve a 28-21 victory on Oct. 27.
But on-the-field success didn’t write the whole story.
Remember when Reynolds and Greer didn’t communicate?
“Everything completely changed,” Reynolds said.
It’s led to 2012, a season that’s featured five UVa captains. Reynolds and Greer are two of them.
Not so different anymore.
“He’s just an amazing guy,” Reynolds said. “A lot of times we joke around because we’re on different sides, but I think we come back to the reality that we’re brothers regardless of anything. We don’t see anything else.
“All we see is just this brotherhood.”
Tonight, the Scott Stadium portion of it will come to an end.
“[We’re] just really enjoying and taking it all in,” Greer said. “We know there’s probably not a lot of time left. We’re just really enjoying it and trying to feed off each other and still be leaders on defense.”
And it’s not totally over. Football-wise, there’s still a trip to Virginia Tech next week and a possible December bowl game.
Friendship-wise, there are still countless years available.
“Maybe one day I can go up to Cleveland, he can come down to Norfolk in the future,” Reynolds said. “I definitely think that’ll happen. I think we’re going to be close for a while. Our families are going to be close for a while.”
Which brings this essay to one more comparison.
La’Roy Reynolds and Steve Greer. Julius Campbell and Gary Bertier.
“It’s one of those ‘Remember the Titans’ relationships,” Reynolds said.