Reynolds looks to cap record-setting career

— -- Keenan Reynolds' future as the Navy quarterback consists of one more game, the Military Bowl presented By Northrop Grumman matchup with Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon.

He'll conclude a record-setting career with the Midshipmen and admittedly isn't sure what his football future holds. He'd like to think there's a place somewhere in the NFL for a guy who's scored more touchdowns (85) than anybody to have ever played in the FBS ranks.

Even if there's not, Reynolds has the kind of future in front of him that most of us could only dream about. An international relations major, Reynolds' two favorite classes during the fall semester at Navy were National Security Decision Making in the Cyber Age and Politics in Irregular Warfare. His first preference for his post-graduate service assignment was information warfare, and Reynolds got it -- just like he gets most things he sets his mind to.

"I sleep well at night knowing the future of our country is OK if we keep young men like Keenan in leadership positions," said David Turner, who coached Reynolds in high school at Goodpasture Christian School in Madison, Tennessee.

Indeed, Reynolds' options will be endless. He's unsure where he will be deployed when he graduates in May and admits he's a bit nervous about going into the fleet as an officer and leading more experienced men and women. And if he gets a shot at pro football, would he be in a position to juggle it all?

"I think about all of it, what's going to happen from a football standpoint and if I'll get a chance in the NFL and what the military will be like," said Reynolds, who was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting and helped put Navy football on the national stage this season.

"The opportunity to go out and lead is very challenging and kind of an intimidating thing, because you're kind of behind the curve. They know everything about their job and have been well-led, and here you come in fresh out of college and are in charge of them. I'll just work hard and everything will work out."

It's not like Reynolds isn't used to making decisions and quick decisions, at that. As a four-year starter at quarterback in Navy's triple-option offense, he's the guy who makes it all go for the Midshipmen, who would win a school-record 11 games if they beat Pitt.

While being a strong leader has always come naturally for Reynolds, he's hesitant to make too many analogies between football and the military.

"Some things from football I will take with me in my officer's life," he said. "But at the same time, when you become an officer, you're dealing with people's lives. You're making life-and-death decisions at some levels."

As a graduate of the Naval Academy, Reynolds is obligated to serve a minimum of five years in the Navy or Marine Corps. If an NFL team were to draft him or sign him as a free agent, it's not out of the question that Reynolds could play and serve at the same time. It's happened before, although it wouldn't be easy. However, not much of anything has been easy for Reynolds as he's continually beaten the odds as a 5-foot-10 quarterback.

"A lot of my career, it's been about what I couldn't do," said Reynolds, whose 30 passing touchdowns are a Navy school record. "It's just what people see, or really, what they don't see. We don't throw it that much. That's just who we are. But when I have to throw it, I do what I can to try and make plays for the team."

Reynolds recently accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23, and he was listed as a running back. If that's what he needs to do to get an NFL shot, so be it. Of course, it was a similar story coming out of high school. Reynolds, who grew up in Antioch, Tennessee, started from the time he was a freshman at Goodpasture and ran the Wing-T offense. By the time he was a junior and senior, he was calling a lot of his own plays.

It's one of the reasons Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo calls Reynolds the smartest quarterback he's ever seen. Turner knew from experience that it wouldn't take Reynolds long to make his mark in Annapolis, both on and off the field.

"When I first got him, he was smaller than the other kids, but all those other characteristics you look for -- making people around him better, throwing the ball on time, running an offense and being the leader of the team -- he came in and did that very early," Turner said. "The thing that always amazed me was his ability to control a huddle. Even as a freshman, he could control a huddle and had the respect of all those around him."

Reynolds racked up big numbers in high school and was super athletic, but the only schools that seriously recruited him to be a quarterback were Navy, Air Force and Wofford.

Lamont Ramsey, the father of Florida State All-American Jalen Ramsey, trains athletes in the Nashville area and either coached or trained Reynolds from the time he was 8. Few kids worked as hard or as diligently as Reynolds, Ramsey said, and Reynolds was a quick learner.

"The only thing that kept the bigger schools from coming in and getting him was his size," Ramsey said. "He wasn't small, just short as a quarterback. He's always been very athletic and a leader of the team no matter which team he was on and would take that team, regardless of talent, and make it better.

"I knew a lot of schools were missing out on him and would be sorry later on."

Georgia Tech showed some fleeting interest, and a few other schools, like Vanderbilt, inquired about moving him to defensive back or slot receiver.

"I remember Keenan and his dad asking me for advice, and I told them, 'Follow your heart,' " Ramsey said.

Reynolds' heart was set on playing quarterback, and not since the great Roger Staubach more than 50 years ago has Navy had a quarterback play the position as well as Reynolds.

"I like the way it all worked out," said Reynolds, who has 4,415 career rushing yards and needs 81 yards in the bowl game to pass Denard Robinson and become the NCAA's all-time quarterback rushing leader.

"Everything worked out the way it should have. I've had an opportunity to play quarterback, and that's something I really wanted to do. To be able to have some success has been awesome, but nothing beats the relationships I've built here. I've always kind of been a loner, but I've met some of my best friends here, people I will never forget and people I will rely on the rest of my life.

"I wouldn't go back and change anything."