Navy Spring Review: Quarterbacks

The Navy Midshipmen recently completed their 2014 spring practice drills. GoMids.com will now review every position, listing the starter, backup and third string player. In this edition we look at the quarterbacks.

The tragic death of freshman slotback Will McKamey due to brain trauma cast an enormous pall over Navy's spring practice. "We took time off to mourn," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said as he canceled four practices as team traveled to McKamey's Knoxville, Tennessee home as the Mids laid their teammate to rest. "There's nothing that prepares you for that." On the football front the Mids look to be loaded this season as they return 15 combined starters on offense and defense and five on special teams from last season's Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl winning team. Note the class year mentioned represent the player's class this fall.

QUARTERBACKS

Starter: Keenan Reynolds Jr.
Back up: Tago Smith So.
Third String: Will Worth So.
Navy record setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds did not see any live contact during spring football practice. Head coach Ken Niumatalolo didn't want to take any chances with Keenan who was named honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated last season. It was a wise choice. Older Navy fans can remember when quarterback Brian Madden suffered a season ending knee injury on what was one of the last plays of spring ball in 2000. There is no reason to put him at risk. Reynolds is already the best Navy quarterback in the triple option era.

Reynolds is entering his junior season after an amazing 2013 sophomore campaign. He finished the season with 1,346 rushing yards and a quarterback record setting 31 rushing touchdowns. He threw for 1,057 passing yards, eight touchdown against only two interceptions as he accounted for 39 total touchdowns. He scored 188 points which shattered the old Navy school record set by Bill Ingram way back in 1917. Reynolds was named the Independent team Offensive Player of the Year. Reynolds' play can't be simply quantified in statistics or awards. What makes him a great player is his ability as a playmaker, his toughness, his precision in running the offense and the confidence he inspires in his teammates. Reynolds is a special player who has that magic "it" you want in a quarterback. Navy had lost that mojo at QB when Ricky Dobbs graduated. It's easy to forget now but between September 17, 2011 and September 29, 2012 the Mids lost 10 of 14 games. Reynolds changed that as a plebe when he came off the bench to replace an injured Trey Miller against Air Force and led the Mids to a 28-21 comeback overtime victory. Reynolds has compiled a 15-6 record (71.4% winning percentage) as a starter since that game. Reynolds understands the offense and can execute it at a very high level.

Last season saw the emergence of super fast sophomore backup quarterback Tago Smith after John Hendrick was injured. Tago was an unexpected surprise at quarterback for me since I thought he would be Navy's next star slotback. Smith played free safety, quarterback and wide receiver in high school. At the Naval Academy Prep School he was used as a slotback but was injured. He was the fastest A-back at NAPS in 2012. I saw his speed on display when he scored NAPS only touchdown on a 62-yard run in a loss against powerful Nassau Community College. The move to quarterback was an inspired one. He has a strong arm but never threw the ball in limited playing time last fall. Smith showed his explosiveness with a 24-yard touchdown run late in the win over South Alabama. He possesses excellent run skills, instant acceleration and vision. He understands the offense, his pitch keys and looked comfortable under center this spring.

Sophomore quarterback Will Worth (6-1, 210) is the younger brother of Navy linebacker Joe Worth. Worth was a four year starter and a standout linebacker and quarterback at Newsome high school in Florida. He was a tremendous athlete with good speed and a strong arm. Worth could play on either side of the ball. He might end up as a linebacker like his brother.

I was surprised that some reporters questioned the depth at quarterback behind Reynolds at the start of spring practice. While there is no proven back-up the Mids have so much talent at the quarterback position that last year's back-up John Hendrix and Nick Fabrizio, who was listed third on the depth chart going into spring, didn't make the top three. Kenneth Mouton, who was expected to be the next Navy quarterback star before Reynolds, and senior Kody Akers were starters at NAPS and also are unable to crack the current depth chart. Throw in talented direct admit Troy Thompson and it's hard to question Navy's depth at quarterback.

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