Sadly this is not news that record setting quarterback Keenan Reynolds has been granted an exception by the NCAA to play for a fifth year in Annapolis (one can dream right?). Rather this is the good, albeit less exciting news for Navy fans, that Reynolds has been granted permission by the US Navy to play in the NFL in 2016.
As reported by Pro Football Talk, Reynolds and Patriots second-year long snapper Joe Cardona are both to serve in the Navy Reserves this year. This gives the players a chance to make their marks on the NFL while still working to serve their country per Naval Academy rules.
The report, as told by Michael David Smith, states the Navy, like the Army and the Air Force, requires graduates to serve in the military after graduation. But exceptions are sometimes made that allow graduates to pursue their careers while in the Reserves. When those exceptions are made for professional athletes, they are usually required to work at military recruiting stations during the off season, and to do military work after their sports careers end.
Reynolds was of course chosen by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft last month. The pick itself was a little out of nowhere as the Ravens had kept their pursuit of Reynolds under the radar unlike a number of other teams (notably the Patriots and the Titans) who were interested in him.
The news is great for Reynolds as the uncertainty of whether or not he was going to be able to play this year, or in two years, or even in five years must have been weighing on him throughout the pre and post draft process. Now Reynolds has to work on developing the skill set needed to be a high level performer at the slot receiver/returner position that the Baltimore coaching staff think he can excel at.
Whether or not the Navy should allow Reynolds this time to play before picking up his military commitment is an argument for another day. The publicity Reynolds will get if he can turn his natural talent into being a productive player on the field for the Ravens can only strengthen Navy in terms of recruiting and visibility.
Reynolds has been given his chance. Now he needs to prove he belongs on an NFL field.