ANNAPOLIS —- Keenan Reynolds‘ first performance in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium might not be long remembered. He was 4-for-9 for 40 yards in the Midshipmen’s first scrimmage of preseason camp.
The freshman was also better than John Hendrick (1-for-6, 8 yards), with whom he is competing for the backup quarterback job.
It wasn’t so much that Reynolds was over-the-top outstanding, though he is polished for a guy with only about a dozen college practices to his credit. It’s that he might be the best option behind starter Trey Miller as a direct-entry plebe when the season arrives in three weeks.
“I told John that first week, I warned him about it,” offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said Saturday. “It’s wide open. John has not separated himself at all from Keenan. He’s still making some of the same mistakes. I told him that, and he understands. He understands where he is. If it got down to where one of those guys had to play this year, I don’t see a difference right now.”
Jasper offered candid assessments throughout his post-scrimmage chat with reporters. Reynolds was a popular discussion topic, since his place on the depth chart makes him a person of great interest as the Sept. 1 opener against Notre Dame inches closer.
Navy hasn’t made it through a season with one starting quarterback since 2005, which only amplifies the attention on the race for the backup position. Besides Miller, no other quarterback on the roster has taken a snap.
“I think Keenan is way more consistent right now,” Jasper said. “John has a strong arm and is doing some pretty good things. The consistency with Johnny —- he’ll throw a great throw one play and the next, who knows where it’ll go. Keenan’s very accurate, he puts the ball where it needs to go. In the option game-wise, John did pretty good in the spring and Keenan’s kind of caught up to him.”
In the process, he’s reminded Jasper of another quarterback who arrived at Navy without much work in a triple-option offense who quickly adapted to the scheme.
That would be Ricky Dobbs, who holds the Mids’ single-season records for both rushing touchdowns (27 in 2009) and passing touchdowns (13 in 2010). His 49 career rushing touchdowns are also a school record.
“He’s kind of the same as Ricky,” Jasper said. “He was in the [shot]gun most of high school and that was one thing that surprised me about Ricky is when he came here, he didn’t have much option experience but when he got on the football field I still remember he went into the Northern Illinois game and he looked like an option quarterback. I was like ‘Wow, he’s really, really got the footwork down, got the body language down.’ Keenan’s getting there.”
—- Patrick Stevens