Keenan Reynolds Rushes To Endzone, Runs To Legend
Tell me if this story sounds familiar: An individual who has taken a commitment to defend our country returns to their home state and does something remarkable.
On Saturday, Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will travel to Memphis to take on the #13 Tigers. Not only does it have large implications for both teams in the American Athletic Conference, with both teams sporting an 4-0 conference record, but the game has special meaning to Reynolds.
A native of Antioch, Tennessee (about a four hour car ride from Memphis), Reynolds has never played a college game (he did play Middle Tennessee in a bowl game, which was held in Texas) in his home state and he has a chance to break the NCAA career rushing touchdown record.
Perhaps more remarkable than Reynolds returning to his hometown to break a major NCAA record is how Reynolds got to those totals and how truly dominating he has been in his almost four years at Annapolis by both his total numbers and which players he has passed while collecting those totals.
Consider that of the all the players ranked in the Top-10 for total rushing touchdowns (several ties exist in the Top-10), the highest total by a quarterback since 1956 had been 59 by Eric Crouch and Colin Kaepernick. Reynolds passed that total just nine games into his junior season in 2014.
Beyond the quarterbacks, Reynolds will be passing some of the biggest names in college football, most notably Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball, whom Reynolds is currently tied with at 77.
In just this season, which he entered with 64 rushing scores, Reynolds has passed exceptional college players such as Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson, and Ron Dayne.
Still, an overview of the top rushing scorers in NCAA history shows that most of the players reached these milestones while playing at major powerhouse conference like Texas (Williams and Benson), Wisconsin (Ball and Dayne), or Nebraska (Couch).
Reynolds has statistically become one of the best rushers in college football, and did so at a military academy where football ability comes second to the ability to lead soldiers in a time of war.
Reynolds physical ability and Navy’s desire to find future leaders proved to be a perfect match for both.
A big reason the fit was so good, at least on the field, was because of the triple-option scheme and Reynold’s best attribute, based on the record he is chasing, is his legs. In his three plus seasons, Navy has never ranked lower than 3rd nationally in total rushing attempts.
As a freshman, Reynolds got the nod as the starting quarterback just five games into his time at Annapolis, with the team just 1-3. This includes being thrashed by a Notre Dame team, a team that would eventually reach the National Championship game.
Once Reynolds took over the job, he saw instant success and it turned into wins, with the Mid’s losing just one more time during the 2013 regular season.
Reynolds truly became a stat stuffer as a sophomore rushing for 31 touchdowns, which tied him for the lead amongst all Division I players and also set the mark for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. He had more rushing touchdowns than Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch and Boston College running back Andre Williams, both of whom were Heisman finalists.
That year, Reynolds also set the record for most rushing touchdowns in a game by an FBS quarterback with seven against San Jose State.
Although Reynolds' rushing totals are the most impressive, he has proven to be a solid passer within the option system. He has thrown for over 1,000 yards twice which might not seem impressive, but consider how few times Navy throws the ball. Navy has never ranked higher than 121st in total pass attempts during Reynolds career.
The result of this is that Reynolds has not only been an effective scoring the ball on rushing attempts, but also through the air.
Currently, Reynolds sits at 38th on the list of total touchdowns, tied with Geno Smith at 102, and having passed Peyton Manning already. By seasons end, Reynolds likely can crack the Top-30 which would include passing Drew Brees, Matt Leinart and Brett Hundley, amongst others.
So when Reynolds crosses the goal line, hopefully on Saturday, he will not only be setting a milestone, but cementing his status as one of the best players in NCAA history.