Navy’s Reynolds runs in elite circles
By Drew Harris, ArmedForcesBowl.com
FORT WORTH, Texas – If Keenan Reynolds is in a club, there’s a pretty good chance it’s a select one.
By serving as the starting quarterback at Navy, the sophomore signal caller’s name sits alongside the historic institution’s greats, a list highlighted by Roger Staubach, the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner turned Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl MVP. As if that isn’t enough, Reynolds now finds himself approaching another exclusive fraternity–players who have scored 30 or more rushing touchdowns in a season. That list, headed up by another Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer, running back Barry Sanders, is just two names long.
After well over a century of college football, only Oklahoma State’s Sanders (37 in 1988) and current NFL running back and former Wisconsin Badger Montee Ball (33 in 2011) have accomplished that feat. Additionally, only five players have ever accounted for at least 30 scores, combining rushing and receiving, in college football history.
Reynolds, who leads the nation in scoring (14.7 points per game), already rates as the all-time single-season leader for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 29 after scoring three times against Army in the regular-season finale. He will get his chance to add to that total, and join Sanders and Ball, on Dec. 30 when Navy takes on Middle Tennessee in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
“It’s indescribable,” Reynolds said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I see a season going like this. And I like to set high goals.”
Reynolds’ illustrious 2013 campaign was highlighted by a game few players could ever fathom. That display came on Nov. 22, when the native of Antioch, Tenn., found pay dirt seven times rushing the ball against San Jose to tie an NCAA record for most touchdowns scored against an FBS opponent.
The well-known, but not well-defended, Navy offense that Reynolds has thrived in is the triple option. It’s a system that gives the quarterback the keys to keep the offensive machine running. “It fits my personality,” Reynolds said. “I enjoy being able to be in control. I like to make decisions on the fly and get our offense into the right play.”
His high school team used multiple offenses, primarily the Delaware Wing-T. But you wouldn’t know the triple option was relatively new to Reynolds. When he took over the starting job last year as a freshman, the Mids were 1-3. He helped right the ship, and Navy now has a 14-6 record when he starts under center.
“He’s just a wonderful young man,” head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “When you look at him, he’s not a very physically impressive guy. He’ll tell you he’s 5-11, but he’s 5-10, 185 pounds. But he’s the smartest quarterback that I’ve been around. He’s all about numbers, he gets you in the right play and he gets the ball to all the right people.”
Fifty years ago this week, Staubach took his Navy team to the Cotton Bowl to face No. 1 Texas. In 2013, Reynolds also brings his troops to the Lone Star State for its 10th bowl game in 11 years. The tradition of Navy football is not lost on the quarterback.
“It’s spectacular,” Reynolds said. “It’s just an honor to put on the jersey of all the guys who have played at Navy, not just of Heisman Trophy winners, but of Admirals, Chiefs of Staff, other great men. It’s an inspiration to be a part of the legacy and brotherhood. I wouldn’t want to play for any other staff.”