It’s the reason the Vanderbilt second baseman grew up wearing Nebraska red. He never met his grandpa because he died before Reynolds was born, but he has seen the videos. The ankle-breaking ability his grandpa showed for the Cornhuskers earned him the nickname Mr. Touchdown.
“I’m guessing he scored a lot of touchdowns if that was his nickname,” Reynolds said with a laugh. “I’ve seen a few (of the runs). You hear about the plays when you hear about him, and there are always a few runs that stick out.”
Bobby Reynolds set school records with 1,342 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in his All-American season of 1950. His success wasn’t just on the football field. He was also known as a great baseball player, which is where he met and became friends with Mickey Mantle.
The decorated athletic career is what most people talk to Reynolds about when it comes to his grandpa, but he hears stories from family about the kind of person his grandpa was. No one doubts his dominance on the football field. Reynolds always hears stories of other stories his family, including his grandpa’s demeanor off the field.
“Just life,” Reynolds said about what he would talk to his grandpa about. “He went through a lot of the same things I go through in sports. I’d just want to know how he dealt with it. I always hear that he was a great guy. I just wish I was able to meet him.”
The house that Reynolds grew up in was decorated with memorabilia of his grandpa. There were shirts and articles about him hung all over the house, even a Diet Mountain Dew can with his grandpa’s picture on it. When the Omaha World-Herald released their list of 100 Greatest Athletes in Nebraska history, Reynolds’ grandpa was No. 45.
His decorated time at Nebraska wasn’t the only athletic career that happened in Lincoln. Riley’s great grandma ran track, while his dad and brother played golf. His mom and sister also attended Nebraska.
Reynolds thought about carrying on that tradition by playing baseball for the Cornhuskers. However, the interest wasn’t mutual. Now the Lee’s Summit, Mo. product is the starting second baseman for a team in the College World Series.
“I thought about it, but I didn’t really get much interest from there,” Reynolds said. “I’m glad I ended up at Vanderbilt.”
Reynolds is hitting .346 at the plate, but his role on the team comes on defense. He is a constant at the bottom of the batting order and has made only one error in 57 games played this season.
“He’s solid,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “He’s kind of a quiet player, and you don’t hear a lot from him. He’s just so sturdy at second base. He’s just a consistent kid who plays easy. There isn’t much up and down.”
Reynolds is familiar with Omaha after seeing the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium when he was growing up. His first trip to Omaha as a player comes in the first year of TD Ameritrade Park, and it didn’t disappoint when Reynolds first walked inside.
“It’s kind of breathtaking,” Reynolds said. “You always hear about what happens here and all the memories people make. It’s going to be a lot of fun to make our own memories.”
The Commodores are making their first College World Series appearance in program history. Reynolds is more comfortable with the surroundings since he made the trip as a kid, but Corbin came twice as an assistant coach at Clemson.
Instead of asking Reynolds, Corbin decided to take the lead on decisions about where the team would eat.
“I don’t need Riley Reynolds for that,” Corbin said. “He’s pretty skinny. I wouldn’t ask a skinny guy where the best restaurant is. Find the fattest guy, and I’ll ask him.”
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