The Heisman Trophy often goes to a player destined for the NFL and further greatness within the sport. Mark Schofield explains why Navy Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who will soon be defending this country, deserved consideration for the award.
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.” – Heisman.com
What if I told you there was a collegiate football player who this season broke the Bowl Subdivision record for career touchdowns, with 83, and this season alone ran for 1,093 yards and 19 touchdowns? How about if I told you that this same player also completed 46 of 84 passes for another 964 yards and 6 touchdowns, for a quarterback rating of 172.4? And what if you learned that this player led his team to a 9-2 record heading into their final regular-season game, that his team is currently ranked in the Top 25, and whose only losses were to Notre Dame and Houston? That alone should be enough for Heisman consideration, right?
Keenan Reynolds deserved to be a Heisman finalist. He might have even deserved the trophy.
For four years the Navy quarterback has represented the best of the United States Naval Academy, both on and off the playing field. His career statistics speak for themselves, as does the Midshipmen’s’ record over the past four seasons. On his watch Navy has a record of 30-13, including wins in two of three bowl games, with a fourth-straight bowl appearance on the horizon. Away from the gridiron, Reynolds is a leader as well. Last spring the player sacrificed a spring-break trip to remain on campus and prepare for his senior season. The International Relations major has managed to balance his football life with the demanding course load required at the Naval Academy, boasting a 3.32 GPA in that spring semester.
I am not alone in making the case for Reynolds, not by a long shot. A quick Google search of his name brings up countless articles making his case, dating back to last summer. This was also evident when the Naval Academy QB was leading the online poll on ESPN for the Nissan Heisman Ballot. This poll of college football fans would award an actual vote for the Heisman trophy. However, while leading this poll, Reynolds was suddenly removed from contention. He has since been returned to the ballot, but it remains unclear what impact his removal had on his double-digit lead.
He never should have been removed, and he should have been invited to New York City for the Heisman trophy ceremony, in his dress blues, to hear the announcement.
On Saturday, one of the greatest spectacles in all of college football will take place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, when Navy and Army clash for the 116th time. From the entrance of the Cadets and then the Midshipmen, to the clash on the field, ending with both teams singing their fight songs together after the game, the Army-Navy rivalry stands for something pure in college sport, something that we seem to have lost along the way. For the seniors in this game, it is usually their final football game. Usually, their next duty stop is often a foreign post, keeping the nation safe, placing themselves in harm’s way.
Keenan Reynolds knew this when he enrolled at the Naval Academy. He knew full well that he would owe his nation five years of service following graduation, and that he would have no professional football career. But throughout his time at the Naval Academy, he has approached the game with the highest level of integrity and would be a tremendous steward for the Heisman Trophy. At the very least, he deserved to be there.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.