Keenan Reynolds set numerous records as a quarterback at Navy. Now in his new home of Baltimore, he’ll have to adjust accordingly to life as a wide receiver and kick returner.
Hopefully leading the Midshipmen to 11 wins (the most in program history) in 2015, finishing third in last year’s Heisman Trophy race and breaking the FBS record for career touchdowns has built up enough good will with Charm City football fans considering an admission he made during a post-practice press conference on the first day of the Ravens’ two-day rookie minicamp Friday.
Ward played quarterback, running back and wide receiver at the University of Georgia before becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, much to the chagrin of Ravens fans. Ward only returned one punt and eight kickoff returns in his NFL career, however.
Reynolds, who was drafted in the sixth round (182nd overall), also spoke to former Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants return specialist Brian Mitchell, who played quarterback at University of Southwestern Louisiana, now University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
Mitchell played a big part in Reynolds’s selection, according to MMQB.com’s Peter King.
Two interesting things about this pick: GM Ozzie Newsome and assistant GM Eric DeCosta saw Reynolds at his lone post-season showcase, the East-West Shrine Game, in a practice just before he strained a hamstring—and they were impressed with the traits punt-returners need to have: short-area quickness and sure hands. Reynolds couldn’t work at full speed for several weeks after that, so some teams cooled on him. And when the Ravens heard on the morning of the draft that he’d been working out learning the return game with Brian Mitchell, one of the great returners ever, John Harbaugh called Mitchell on the morning of the draft. Mitchell, who was coached by Harbaugh with the Eagles a few years back, said he thought Reynolds could be a gifted returner.
Mitchell said on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic on Friday that Reynolds has already overcome the biggest challenge of “forgetting about being a quarterback” and now has to focus on reading punters and reacting naturally like a returner should. Mitchell said when Harbaugh called, he told the Ravens head coach “I think he’s light years ahead of me where I was coming out of college because no one told me I was going to be a punt returner.”
When Harbaugh pressed Mitchell and asked if he would draft Reynolds if he had a pick, Mitchell replied: “Hell yeah.” Keenan has really made it big this time.