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“At the end of the day, action is seen,” Reynolds said. “You can talk, you can yell, you can be [making] a lot of hoopla, be very vocal. But if you’re not producing, nobody’s going to follow you. They’re just going to hear what you say and move on.”

Always a leader by example, Reynolds enters this season also focused on leading with his words. He is not a team captain, but he has been noticeably more vocal in practice, Niumatalolo said. That emphasis has both carried over into the locker room and brought another level of clarity and command to the field.

“He’ll get us into the right play, time management with the game clock and whatever we need to do,” Copeland said. “He knows all the calls, he knows the receivers’ routes, he knows everything on the offense. He can see that and check us into the right play.”

The Heisman talk surrounding Reynolds has picked up as Saturday’s game has approached. Roger Staubach, who was Navy’s last Heisman winner in 1963, told USA Today this week that Reynolds “should be in that conversation.” And others, including 1995 winner Eddie George, have passed along their own advice for navigating the hype.

George met Reynolds‘ father, Donnie, at a youth football league in which Donnie Reynolds coaches and George’s son plays. His words of wisdom? “Just play. I just played. I didn’t think about it.”

Reynolds says he’s dealt with the hype in the same way he’s dealt with being a leader: by focusing on his production, and nothing else.

“I could come out on Saturday, lay an egg, and all the Heisman talk, the preseason hype — it’s gone,” Reynolds said. “I accept it. I’m thankful for it. I’m grateful for the attention I’ve received over the offseason. But at the end of the day, I’ve done nothing in 2014.”