ncaaf 4 days ago

Seahawks expected to sign former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds as a receiver, return man

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) — Gregg Bell The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

May 16--The Seahawks' search for more receivers has apparently led them to the (former) Navy.

Seattle is expected to sign former Navy quarterback and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Keenan Reynolds to a free-agent contract to catch passes and possibly return kicks, a league source told The News Tribune on Wednesday. The news was first reported by Ian Rapoport of the league-owned NFL Network.

The Seahawks lost wide receiver Paul Richardson to Washington in free agency in March. In September they traded former No.-2 wide receiver Jermaine Kearse of Lakewood to the New York Jets for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. And one-time Pro Bowl kick returner Tyler Lockett, another Seahawks wide receiver, is entering the final year of his rookie contract with Seattle.

The 24-year-old Reynolds was on Washington's practice squad late last season, beginning in November. He was on the Ravens' practice squad as a rookie in 2016.

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If Barack Obama had not been president then, Reynolds might be an ensign still on active duty in the U.S.. Navy.

As I wrote last month while the Seahawks were scouting Brett Toth, an offensive tackle from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the recent history of service-academy graduates playing in the NFL has been a mix of new opportunities, Super Bowls--and doors slammed shut.

The previous Obama administration relaxed service rules and began allowing some academy graduates the chance to defer active-duty time and go into the Ready Reserve immediately to pursue NFL careers. That's how 2015 Naval Academy graduate Joe Cardona has snapped for kicks for the New England Patriots in each of the last two Super Bowls. And it's how Reynolds got drafted in the spring of 2016 by Baltimore, in the sixth round. Unlike Toth and Cardona, Reynolds, who unlike Toth and Cardona was not invited to the combine, spent most of the '16 season on the Ravens' practice squad. He was on Washington's practice squad late last season.

At the 2017 combine I talked to Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette. Some were projecting him as a mid- to late-round draft pick last year. He was hoping to follow Cardona and Reynolds into the NFL, but was sensing a change may be coming in DoD policy under the new president, Donald Trump.

Indeed, two months later the Trump administration rescinded the two-year waiver-request policy, making Reynolds the last NFL draft pick and entrant under the previous service-waiver option. A Pentagon spokesperson said last May: "Our military academies exist to develop future officers who enhance the readiness and the lethality of our military services. Graduates enjoy the extraordinary benefit of a military academy education at taxpayer expense."

Robinette is now a logistics officer in the Air Force. Toth is back at the likelihood of serving two years on active duty and then asking for a waiver into the reserve and, he hopes, the NFL. He was not drafted last month.

And Reynolds appears to be on his way to Seattle.

In 2015, Reynolds set the NCAA top-division record for the most career rushing touchdowns with 85, breaking the old mark Adrian Peterson had set at Oklahoma. Reynolds finished fifth in voting for that year's Heisman Trophy. That was the highest finish by a service-academy player since Navy quarterback Roger Staubach won the Heisman in 1963.

Reynolds was a running back when he was invited to East-West Shrine Game for college all-stars following his senior season at Navy. He's been a wide receiver and kick return during those seasons since with Baltimore and Washington.

The 5-foot-1, 185-pound Reynolds has yet to appear in an NFL game.

The Seahawks have had two former academy guys play for them in their 42-year history. Defensive end Bryce Fisher, an Air Force Academy graduate, played 33 games for Seattle from 2005-07 including in the franchise's first Super Bowl, at the end of the '05 season. Guard Mike Wahle played for Navy then the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers before signing with the Seahawks in 2008 and playing 10 games that year. Wahle didn't graduate from the Naval Academy; he was kicked off Navy's team for a failed steroids test before his senior season.

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