Powering Up: Reid Chauvin’s Ascent to Episcopal’s No. 1 Running Back Spot

by: William Weathers // GeauxPreps.com Contributor

Before Episcopal of Baton Rouge running back Reid Chauvin readily found his way into the endzone 35 times over the past two seasons, the 5-foot-9, 195-pound made the weight room a constant before ever taking a handoff. 

He couldn’t have had one without the other. 

“I’ve always considered myself more of a power back,” Chauvin said. “I’ve always had the mindset that I was going to run over somebody. It’s just fun. It’s what I look to do.”

The two-time Division IV state powerlifting champion has been a mainstay of Episcopal’s run-oriented Wing-T offense with Chauvin serving as the perfect complement to former Knights’ leading rusher Braeden George, who signed with the Naval Academy. 

“He’s the unselfish guy,” Episcopal football coach Travis Bourgeois said of Chauvin. “He hasn’t been in the shadow because he gets his share of the carries. But he’s always been considered ‘Thunder’ and we have had a ‘Lightning’ guy (George). This year it changes a bit because we’ve lost the ‘Lightning’ from the last couple of years.”

Chauvin may not be flashy on the football field, but you’ll feel his impact when he hits you.

George possessed game-breaking speed, often stretching run plays to the outside and reaching another gear around would-be defenders en route to long-distance gains or touchdowns. 

Chauvin operated within the parameters of the offense, particularly running between the tackles and blocking, and showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. 

“When you see how Reid’s develop from his freshman year, you look at his work ethic,” Bourgeois said. “Here’s a guy you don’t have to tell to get in the weight room. He knows what it takes to get his body in ultimate condition to be a competitor. That’s not just on the football field but in powerlifting. It’s something that it’s a God-given ability and he’s taken advantage of it.”

After a sophomore season in which he rushed for 770 yards and 15 touchdowns on a 10-3 team, Chauvin took his game to another level in 2023 with 166 carries for 1,224 yards (6.7 yards per carry and 86.6 yards per game) and a career-best 20 touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions for 166 yards and a score for the Knights, which advanced to the Division III select state quarterfinals.

“He’s low to the ground and has leg strength,” Bourgeois said. “You’re not going to arm tackle the guy. He’s giving 100% on every play. When Ascension Catholic (17-14 victory) kind of shut down Braeden when he was injured, Reid was our bell cow and had over 150 yards rushing when we really needed him. He was ready for that moment. He never had the most carries or yards in a game, but that one game where we needed him to step up and he did. He was that guy.”

There’s been one constant in Chauvin’s ascension to Episcopal’s lead back this season. It’s been his determination and commitment off the field, propelling his time in the weight room to experience the kind of gains that have not only made him one of the state’s top powerlifters but also given the Knights a dependable running threat the past two years. 

The weight room became an important tool for Chauvin during his freshman season where he’s remained a student of the game when no one’s watching in the offseason. He’s noticed improvements in his confidence and durability, and in his sophomore year, he was part of Episcopal’s Division IV runner-up finish in the state powerlifting championships.

“I’m probably stronger than most of the guys on the field,” Chauvin said. “It gives me that mindset to go and hit somebody. I’m more violent on the field.”

Chauvin’s been Division IV’s top lifter for the past two years, setting the squat record and mark for combined weight. He set the Division IV record last season with 1,500 pounds lifted – a squat of 585, bench press of 375, and deadlift of 565 – and was once again the outstanding lifter for his division where the Knights were the runner-up again. 

Although a hamstring injury forced him to miss the team’s spring practice, Chauvin has been part of a 20-member senior class paving the way this offseason. Weightlifting and conditioning have remained of paramount importance for a program seeking to take the next step toward reaching the Superdome. 

“I’m not really a vocal person, I lead by example,” Chauvin said. “If people want to know what to do, they can look at me. I don’t like being one of those guys who starts yelling at people. I let them do the right thing.”

Bourgeois believes in Chauvin’s ability to be a team leader and a key part of this year’s offense. 

“Reid will get that opportunity to be that showcase guy, and we’ll have some guys around him that he’s going to have to be a leader and work with those guys,” he said. “He has to convince them that he was in their shoes, we’re going to have to feed off each other if they’re keying on one guy.

“On paper, he’s going to be the guy because of the experience and reps he’s had in the past,” he said, “but also understands that he needs to be a leader because defenses will start keying on him. He has to get our running back room more developed to get us ready to play on Friday nights. He will be that No. 1 guy that defenses will be concentrating on.”

During three of the four weeks of the Robert Graves Metro Summer 7-on-7 Passing League last month, Chauvin was away trying to prepare for his future with unofficial visits to prospective colleges. 

The National Honor Society member, who carries a 4.0 GPA and ACT score of 29, visited Vanderbilt, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Elon (N.C.) College, where he’s hopeful his academic performance and athletic pursuits will result in a scholarship and opportunity to continue doing what he’s enjoyed.  

“I fell in love with it (lifting) and the mindset of getting better every day,” said Chauvin, who planned to visit Ivy League schools this month. “Doing what you have to do, and getting better and seeing how that would translate to the football field, it really makes me enjoy the sport.”