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Navy's Reynolds exits as one of the greats

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Midshipmen quarterback ends collegiate career in dynamic fashion

Annapolis, MD—It’s not every day an athlete can truly be considered a “once in a generation player.”

But when discussing one Midshipman, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo certainly has a point.

“All of his accomplishments are well deserved,” Niumatalolo said about that special player after his Midshipmen defeated Pitt 44-28 in the Military Bowl Monday.  “He has played phenomenal.  It is hard to articulate all he has done, and he handled all of it with grace, dignity and class.”

The Navy coach was talking about his quarterback Keenan Reynolds, one of the more elite Midshipmen to ever play football in Annapolis.

At just 5’11” and 205-lbs, the MVP of the Military Bowl has a smorgasbord of achievements on the football field. He’s 32-13 as Navy’s starting quarterback, including three straight bowl wins. He has the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NCAA history at 4,559, the most rushing touchdowns in NCAA history with 89, and he’s the first player in NCAA history to score 23 or more rushing touchdowns in three straight seasons.

Judge Smails and Pitt fans alike would call the man a menace. His accomplishments are astonishing.

Reynolds broke perhaps the most impressive of all his records on his final scoring play of his career, a 9-yard rush to ice the victory over Pitt late in the fourth quarter. He broke the record of Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon for rushing touchdowns with 88. Davis set the record just one week ago against Arkansas State in the New Orleans Bowl – vaulting over Reynolds’ earlier mark.

“It is funny,” said the humble Reynolds after the game.  “I was going to my sponsor’s house when someone told me that the record was broken.  I was a little confused, but then I saw (Dixon) had four touchdowns in a bowl game.  I knew I had another game, and I’m competitive.  I wanted it back.”

The catalyst to the famous Navy triple-option attack, Reynolds left behind such college greats as Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne and the former rushing touchdown leader, Montee Ball on his way to the record.

But when asked about greatest accomplishment in his career, Reynolds just shrugged his shoulders and without hesitation said, “Most wins in a season.  You play to win the game and that means the most.”

Reynolds, of course, is not like other athletes that some casually refer to as “heroes.”  While Reynolds is the red-letter definition of hero, it’s not due to his achievements on the football field. The senior is committed to defending the freedom of the United States of America upon his upcoming graduation.

Reynolds, who is projected to be a late-round pick in the NFL by some draft boards, will have to serve at least two years of active duty service before even considering a pro football career.  The last Navy Midshipmen to reach NFL status was 2009 graduate Eric Kettani, a fullback that signed with the Washington Redskins practice squad after three years of active service in 2012.

“These guys are going to serve our country,” said Niumatalolo about Reynolds and the senior class.  “We can have this press conference and talk about them, but there are bad guys out there and they are going to serve this country.  I couldn’t be more proud of them, both on the field and off the field as model Midshipmen.”

A 2008 directive from the Department of Defense makes it possible for graduates to apply for early release after two years of active duty to possibly participate in pro athletics. 

And while he never talked about pro aspirations after his final press conference as a Navy football player on Monday, Reynolds did talk about the realities of saying goodbye to football either temporarily or forever.

“Everything has to come to an end,” he said.  “What better way to end it than to play at home and set the records for the most wins in a season by a senior class?  I’m proud of what we accomplished, but I’ll definitely cherish it.

“Now we can come back to our 20-year reunion and brag and talk about what we did,” Reynolds continued.  “We’ll just sit back and laugh and tell stories of coaches and players and the games.”

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