Meet Keenan Reynolds: The Man Ohio State Will Need to Stop on Saturday

By Tim Shoemaker on August 27, 2014 at 10:21 am
Versatile Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds

Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics


The question posed to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer during his Monday press conference was quite simple: "What do you think of Keenan Reynolds?"

Meyer paused, then reiterated the name as he thought out loud for a second.

"Keenan Reynolds?" he asked.

Meyer was then reminded Reynolds was the name of Navy's starting quarterback, one who set an NCAA single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last year with 31.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, I'm a big fan of his, too," Meyer said. "I didn't know him coming out of high school, and I just know him, the Navy coaches and some people I've talked to think that he's the best that they've ever had, which that tells you — takes your breath away a little bit."

Reynolds is the leader of the Midshipmen offense, one of the most potent rushing attacks in all of college football. Navy averaged more than 325 yards per game on the ground last year and Reynolds accounted for 103.5 of those. His 1,346 rushing yards last season were the 14th most all time by a quarterback in NCAA history for a single season.

He scored 31 of the team's 50 rushing touchdowns, while also passing for 1,057 yards and eight TDs. Reynolds, a junior, is 15-6 as the starting quarterback for Navy and had a seven-touchdown performance on the ground last season against San Jose State.

“He’s their guy. They go to him when they need plays so you just have to prepare for that," Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry said of Reynolds. "He’s a guy who isn’t necessarily a burner speed-wise, but he has really good vision and he knows where the seams are. Once he puts his foot in the ground he gets vertical, and that’s what he likes to do so we have to be prepared for that."

The fifth-ranked Buckeyes know if they can contain Reynolds, they improve their chances significantly of knocking off the Midshipmen.

But how exactly do they go about doing such a difficult task?

"We have to take really good angles, we can’t overrun anything," Perry said. "If a guy is supposed to be running the alley, he has to run the alley then know who’s coming to block him, too. You need to be able to have guys who can take two so you can be able to defend them because the quarterback is a big deal in that offense.”

Reynolds, a native of Antioch, Tenn., is listed at just 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, but none of that matters according to Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. His decision-making, poise and confidence are what make him such a dynamic player.

"He gives me a lot of confidence. Will the play work? I don’t know. But I know he’ll put us in the right play," Niumatalolo told Eleven Warriors back in June. "He allows you as a coach to know the ball is going to be where it’s supposed to be, It’s decision-making that sets him apart."

While Ohio State's ability to contain Reynolds will rely heavily on the the battle of the line of scrimmage, the Buckeyes know what type of difficult task Reynolds and the Midshipmen bring to the table. They know nothing will come easy against Navy.

“It’s a challenge, no doubt. Navy is a very well-coached football team," Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chris Ash said recently. "The triple-option schemes that they run are unique and different to anybody else who we’re gonna play on the schedule. You can go four, five years and never play a team like that."

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