On Wednesday afternoon, Keenan Reynolds was at the White House shaking hands with President Obama as part of the ceremony presenting the Navy football team with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Three days later, the record-setting quarterback learned he would be heading to the NFL as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Not a bad week for the senior co-captain who began his career at Annapolis buried on the depth chart, uncertain when he would get on the field.
The Ravens drafted Reynolds in the sixth round (182nd overall) on Saturday, listing him at wide receiver, where he’s expected to play in the slot. Major college football’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (88) becomes the second Navy player selected in as many years following long-snapper Joe Cardona to the New England Patriots last season in the fifth round.
Reynolds is also the first Midshipmen quarterback picked since Hall of Famer Roger Staubach went to the Dallas Cowboys in 1965.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” Reynolds said in a telephone interview from his sponsor’s home in Crownsville, Md., where he watched the NFL draft with family and friends. “To finally have it culminate at this point is awesome. Now it’s just a matter of getting to graduation.”
Reynolds has a five-year service commitment following graduation but could be granted a waiver allowing him to play in the NFL simultaneously. Cardona, for instance, played in all 16 games for the Patriots as a rookie while working one day a week at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I. He then reported to Bath, Maine, to be stationed on the USS Zumwalt when the season ended.
Staubach, on the other hand, deferred his NFL career for four years—the required service commitment at that time—before joining the Cowboys as a rookie in 1969.
Reynolds has said repeatedly and unequivocally his service commitment is his top priority regardless of the possibilities of an NFL career. His service assignment is in information warfare. Reynolds, along with 14 other seniors, will be commissioned on May 27, which is graduation day.
“Everybody in our program, we’re all really ecstatic for Keenan,” said Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo, who made it to Reynolds’s draft party just in time to see his name come up on the television screen. “I mean he’s done so much for our school and for our program. For him to receive this reward, I couldn’t be more happy for him.”
Reynolds completed his career as the only quarterback in the history of the Army-Navy game to go 4-0. He went 7-1 overall in service academy games, and his 32 career wins are the most by any Midshipmen quarterback. Among his other notable NCAA records include points in a career (530) and all-time rushing yards by a quarterback (4,559).
The Midshipmen went 11-2 this past season to establish a program record for single-season victories. They also won a third straight bowl game for the first time. Navy officials announced shortly after the season Reynolds’ No. 19 would be retired. It does appear he will be able to wear that number with the Ravens, who do not have it currently assigned to a player on their roster.
That Reynolds is on track to play a short drive from the academy made the afternoon all the more gratifying for him, his teammates and the Navy coaching staff. Niumatalolo mentioned the Ravens’ winning tradition, including two Super Bowl triumphs, and spoke in glowing terms about team owner Steve Bisciotti as well as general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Reynolds even has some familiarity with M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens home field, where he played twice as a junior.
“All I needed was for someone to put their neck out on the line for me, and I’m so thankful that the Baltimore Ravens did just that, and I can promise they won’t regret making an investment in me,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always loved playing at M&T Bank Stadium, and I’ve heard noting but great things about the organization. I can’t wait to get started.”