BELLEVILLE, Mich. – Christian Dhue-Reid is one of the most recognizable names in high school football in the Metro Detroit area and beyond. In his fourth year starting at quarterback for Belleville, Dhue-Reid has piled up a 42-3 career record in his role so far while the Tigers have become an annual state power.
Playing for a team filled with high-level NCAA Division I recruits who possess plenty of scholarship offers, Dhue-Reid is the most important player Belleville has despite not holding a single offer of his own yet.
“It’s his team,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said. “I mean, he’s the face of the program. It’s his team.”
In his most recent game, Dhue-Reid set a new Michigan High School Athletic Association state record for passing touchdowns in a career, moving his total to 127 touchdown passes despite playing a shortened regular season this fall.
“It just meant a lot to me and my family and everyone around me,” Dhue-Reid said.
Yet, even with all the success he has had at the quarterback position, there was a moment in his upbringing when he nearly gave up playing quarterback altogether.
Starting off at the quarterback position when he was a five-year-old little league player, little Dhue-Reid was already unsatisfied with the position by the age of seven. In fact, he quit the position altogether to play defense.
“It was just boring,” Dhue-Reid said of playing quarterback. “I didn’t like it — just throwing the ball and I couldn’t tackle anybody.”
It’s pretty difficult to imagine the state’s all-time passing touchdown leader calling the quarterback position boring. Yet, that’s how Dhue-Reid felt about the position. Thanks to encouragement from his dad and coaches, Dhue-Reid returned to the quarterback position a year later, although a little reluctantly.
“I lived to play defense so bad,” Dhue-Reid said. “My coach and my dad, they wanted me to play so bad at quarterback because they knew I could throw the ball. So, when I was like eight, I started back playing.”
Very quickly, however, Dhue-Reid began to see what his dad and little league coaches saw in him as a quarterback. Not long after, playing quarterback was anything but boring for him. He quickly realized the importance of what it means to be a quarterback.
“Quarterback is more than what it is,” Dhue-Reid said. “You’ve got to be the leader on and off the field. I just didn’t realize that when I was younger.”
Considering his state record and overall win-loss record, it is safe to say Dhue-Reid made the right decision in returning to the quarterback position.
Although he still waits for his first offer to play college football to come in, his efforts have earned him a spot as one of MLive’s top 10 selections for the 2020 Michigan High School Football Player of the Year award.
“It feels good knowing all the work I put in for four years straight,” Dhue-Reid said. “It shows people noticing me, because I’m not a big-time kid with all of these offers and stuff like that.”
College plans: He is currently waiting on his first college offer.
Rated: He is currently unrated in the 247Sports and Rivals database.
2020: Despite the regular season being three weeks shorter because of the coronavirus pandemic, Dhue-Reid is 116-for-165 passing for a whipping 1,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. He’s only thrown one interception all season as Belleville heads into the district finals at Canton this Friday with an 8-0 record.
2019: He finished the season 150-for-241 (62.2 percent) for 2,844 yards, 35 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also had 4 rushing touchdowns.
KEEPING THE FAITH
Despite winning 93.3 percent of all of the games he has started in high school and the impressive stats he has put up over that span, Dhue-Reid is still hoping a college coach will extend him an offer – walk-on or otherwise – in order to continue playing at the next level.
“I feel like I’m a smart player,” Dhue-Reid said. “Football is really a numbers game.”
Playing on a team brimming with college prospects made the lack of recruitment even more difficult for Dhue-Reid as he watched friends and teammates get offers from their respective dream schools.
It did not take long for Dhue-Reid’s lack of recruitment to start having a negative impact on him.
“We’ve got gangs of kids around here with offers and he doesn’t have any,” Crowell said. “I think around the end of his sophomore or junior year, he was getting depressed about it. He was looking at all the other kids that were getting offers and all the other quarterbacks.
But Crowell had too much faith in his quarterback to let him wallow. Preaching patience and faith in the process, Dhue-Reid is more focused on giving reasons for coaches to recruit him instead of dwelling on why he has not received an offer.
“It’s like my coach told me, ‘Don’t be worrying about it, it’s going to be coming after the season,’” Dhue-Reid said. “The only thing you have to do is keep winning and win a state championship and it’s all going to come through. I haven’t been panicking on it because I believe in (Crowell’s) words and he’s never lied to me since I’ve been at this school.”
Crowell can tell Dhue-Reid is much more optimistic about the recruiting process this season.
“Now, he’s like, ‘Coach, if they don’t want me, then they don’t want me. If I have to go to a junior college, I’ll go to a junior college. So, that’s where we are with it.”
Plus, Dhue-Reid realizes he is not the only senior out there still trying to earn an offer. Instead of wondering why college programs are not giving him the attention he deserves, Dhue-Reid has been spending all season trying to give them reason to take notice.
Giving your best effort every day is the best advice Dhue-Reid can offer any players in his position.
“Just tell them to show out every game,” Dhue-Reid said. “You’ve got to make your name known every game. Show out and try to be the best you can be. If somebody tells you you’re not good enough, just keep going. If your offers are not coming in … the amount of offers don’t really mean nothing. You can only commit to one school and that’s all that matters.”
Ever since Dhue-Reid joined Belleville as a freshman, Crowell believed he was a player who could take the Tigers to new heights.
All he needed to do was grow up a little.
“He used to be so immature,” Crowell said. “But when you think about it, he was starting as a freshman and he’s only 14 years old. He was supposed to be immature. He’s silly and he doesn’t take anything serious. Throwing the ball is easy to him.”
A couple of weeks ago, however, Crowell was reminded just how much Dhue-Reid has matured over the years.
“About two or three weeks ago, Christian told me, ‘Coach, I don’t about the record no more. I just want to win a state title,’” Crowell recalled. “The old Christian would have never said that.”
Even when talking about his state record, Dhue-Reid insists his main goal is winning a state championship. While the record means a lot to him, his high school career won’t feel complete unless he holds the Division 1 state championship trophy in December.
Then, Dhue-Reid proceed to list of a lot of things he needed to work on, as well as things the team needed as a whole. Crowell said he got confirmation of Dhue-Reid’s leadership when he passed up the potential record-setting touchdown pass for a run on a run-pass option play.
“I’ve taken on accountability … I’m just trying to be accountable for everything,” Dhue-Reid said.
As further proof of Dhue-Reid’s leadership, he recently dared Crowell to make him “live” in practice, which means open to contact from teammates.
Once Crowell decided to indulge his quarterback, however, no one wanted to make contact with Dhue-Reid, let alone tackle him. Crowell wasn’t surprised.
“They wouldn’t hit him,” Crowell said. “They had opportunities to hit him and they wouldn’t hit him.
Five star defensive tackle Damon Payne, an Alabama commit, didn’t want to touch Dhue-Reid. Penn State linebacker commit Jamari Buddin passed up the opportunity to hit him as well. When an opportunity presented itself for anyone really line up Dhue-Reid for a hit, the Belleville players held back.
Crowell said it served as a of reminder how important and how meaningful Dhue-Reid’s presence is on the team. Simply, no one wanted to risk hurting Dhue-Reid in practice — no matter how much his teammates joked it — and jeopardize the team’s chances of success moving forward.
In the end, Dhue-Reid is just too important of a talent. Moreover, he’s too important of a leader.
“It’s a good family atmosphere around here, but he’s definitely the face of the program,” Crowell said. “He’s the face of the community.”
PLAYER OF THE YEAR MOMENT: Breaking the Record
Heading into the district semifinal gwin gainst Northville, Dhue-Reid was tied with the 124-touchdown mark set by Stockbridge’s Mason Gee-Mongomery from 2014-16. Against Northville, Dhue-Reid was an impressive 21-for-23 for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions, pushing his career passing touchdown total to 127 touchdown passes.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR MOMENT: 7th Heaven
After his lowest offensive output of the season in Belleville’s 29-26 season-opening win over Livonia Stevenson, Dhue-Reid set a school record in the home opener against Dearborn Fordson the next week.
In a 69-0 win over Fordson, Dhue-Reid finished 17-for-25 for 295 yards and an incredible 7 touchdown passes. Six of his touchdowns came in the first half as Belleville led 56-0 at the break. Dhue-Reid had touchdown passes of 19, 11, 38, 9, 33, 38 and 37 yards and spread them out across six different receivers.
Even including the incredible effort, Dhue-Reid was still 20 touchdowns shy of tying the MHSAA career touchdown passing record of 124 set by Mason Gee-Montgomery of Stockbridge in 2016. Still, the effort moved him into a tie for No. 3 all-time with Travis Smith of Ithaca.
“I’m coming into every game with the state record in mind,” Dhue-Reid said after the game. “I don’t want to hold nothing back for no team, nobody.”
PLAYER OF THE YEAR MOMENT: A Memorial Moment
In a 69-0 win over Wayne Memorial Dhue-Reid amauled them for 203 passing yards and 5 touchdowns on 11-for-16 passing. He also added a rushing touchdown for good measure. Another big night is looming with a trip to Westland John Glenn this week.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR MOMENT: Five and a half
In the 68-0 throttling of Westland John Glenn in Week 3, Dhue-Reid was able to throw for 282 yards and 5 touchdowns on 13-for-17 passing – all before ending his night at halftime. Belleville hosts Livonia Franklin in what should be another comfortable win.