When the Wake Forest football team takes the field this weekend and next, Traveon Redd will have extra motivation.
The Magna Vista High School graduate is a starting outside linebacker/safety for the Demon Deacons (1-2, 0-2 ACC), who will host Virginia on Saturday and Virginia Tech the following weekend.
Neither UVa nor Tech offered Redd a scholarship when he was a Warriors standout. The fifth-year senior hopes to show the Cavaliers and Hokies what they missed out on.
“Knowing that I didn’t really get much interest from them in recruiting, but still I get to play against them back-to-back, is kind of interesting,” Redd said in a phone interview this week. “It’s a chip on my shoulder going into these types of games.
“They tried recruiting me but yet they never really pulled the trigger on an offer. So going out and really playing well against them kind of rubs it in their face.”
Redd, 22, is one of the elder statesmen on the Demon Deacons. He has been at Wake since January 2016 because he graduated from Magna Vista a semester early.
“I feel like I’m the oldest guy in the room,” he said.
Redd earned his bachelor’s degree in communication in December. He is on track to earn a master’s degree in liberal arts in two months.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Redd ranks fourth on the Demon Deacons with 16 tackles this year, including a team-high 10 tackles in a loss to North Carolina State last month. He has also picked off a pass.
“He’s an older guy, and he plays like it,” Wake Forest defensive coordinator and safeties coach Lyle Hemphill said. “He gives us that maturity and I guess you’d say the older-kid toughness.
“A lot of the younger kids, they get bumps and bruises and they complain. He’s one of those older kids who gets a bump or bruise, he kind of just shakes it off and laughs.
“He’s one of those kids you can count on.”
Redd is listed as Traveon Redd on the Wake roster, but only his parents call him by his first name. To everyone else, he is known as “Tra” (TRAY) — just like he was in high school.
Redd was a four-year starter at Magna Vista. As a strong safety, he helped the Warriors win the Group 3A state title as both a junior and a senior. He also shined at receiver as a senior.
“His ability to tackle and be physical was huge for us,” Magna Vista coach Joe Favero said. “Tra worked as hard as any kid I’ve had in the weight room in the offseason.”
The Warriors beat Lafayette in the 2014 final to claim their first state crown; Redd picked off a 2-point conversion pass in that game. Redd picked off a pass and caught a touchdown pass in the state title game against Lord Botetourt the following year.
“To have two pieces of hardware back-to-back shows all my hard work paid off,” he said.
Redd made the All-Timesland first team and the Group 3A all-state first team at defensive back as a junior and senior. He had 98 solo tackles and four interceptions and forced seven fumbles as a junior. He recorded six interceptions as a senior, when he also had 63 catches.
Redd was also the Warriors’ backup quarterback. When starting quarterback Shoalin McGuire missed the first two playoff games in 2014 because of a knee injury, Redd became the starting signal-caller.
“He embraced the role and went out there and played great,” Favero said.
Redd ran for 119 yards and passed for 175 yards in the first round against Cave Spring. He threw for 239 yards in the second round against Monticello.
“I was kind of nervous going into those games,” he said. “I didn’t want to be the one to cost us those games.”
He verbally committed to Wake Forest the summer before his senior year of high school. He picked Wake Forest over Maryland, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and North Carolina State, among others. He liked that the Winston-Salem school was close to home.
He is even closer to home now — his family moved to Greensboro last year, although the Redds still have their home in Martinsville .
After enrolling early at Wake Forest, Redd played as a true freshman in 2016. He had to redshirt the following season after breaking his elbow in preseason practice.
Last season was his breakthrough year. He started nine games, including the final seven at rover. He recorded 48 tackles, 4 ½ tackles for loss and 1 ½ sacks. He helped Wake (8-5) advance to a bowl game for the fourth straight year.
“He didn’t start the  season playing a lot on first and second down. He was more of a third-down guy,” Hemphill said. “But obviously if he’s being productive on third down, we’ve got to find a way to get him on the field on first and second down, which we did.”
This year, Redd is listed on the depth chart at outside linebacker. But he still attends the defensive backs’ position meetings.
“I really don’t even pay much attention to the actual name of the position that I play,” he said. “I’m on the second level [of the defense] and more likely in the box more than any other safety. But ultimately, I’m still a safety. I’m still able to pop back and play center field if need be.
“Playing rover is kind of what I’m still doing now. If we feel like we need to stop the run, they may incorporate me more into the box, into stopping the run. If we feel like they’re going to come out and pass on us, they will put me in more man [coverage] situations.”
Hemphill considers him one of the three safeties in the lineup.
“He’ll move all over the place,” Hemphill said. “He’s a good tackler. He’s pretty sturdy. He’s not that tall, but he’s 205, 208 pounds. He’s good enough to play out in space with the slots and the receivers, but he’s also big enough to slide into the box and tackle big running backs.”
Redd recorded the first interception of his college career in the team’s last game, an Oct. 2 rout of FCS member Campbell.
“It was almost hard to believe in the moment because I tipped it to myself. It was an exciting moment in my career,” he said.
“I was coming in to kind of fit the run and I saw the quarterback still had the ball and was looking to pass. I kind of hesitated and read the quarterback’s eyes. Once I saw that he released the ball, I jumped up and batted it. I didn’t know I batted it to myself until I looked up and it was sitting right there.”
It was his second takeaway in as many years. He recovered a fumble and returned it 35 yards against Louisville last season.
He is one of two former Timesland stars on the Wake Forest starting defense, along with defensive end and NFL prospect Carlos Basham (Northside).
“He’s a goofball, sort of like me. But he wishes he was as funny as me,” Redd said.
This season might not be Redd’s college swan song.
Two months ago, the NCAA granted all 2020 Division I fall sports athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Redd is not sure if he will return next fall or not. He plans to decide at the end of this season.
“Having the option to come back really does add a sense of relief that I can actually have another full year to prepare … for the [season] without any setbacks, pauses or cancellations,” he said. “I do enjoy the sport and I do have aspirations for the next level, so I’m just keeping all my options open.”
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