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Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, former Heisman contender, lands elite award

January 5, 2016 (Photo Credit: Daniel Woolfolk/Staff)

Naval Academy quarterback Midshipman 1st Class Keenan Reynolds picked up another accolade Tuesday, but this time, it wasn't just for his record-setting success on the field.

The White House Historical Association presented Reynolds, 22, with the inaugural Commodore Stephen J. Decatur award for leadership, in front of guests who included a former chief of naval operations and former Navy secretary at the War of 1812 hero's historic Washington, D.C., home.

"It means a lot, because definitely what we do at the Naval Academy is a lot more than just football," Reynolds told Navy Times. "To be able to receive an award about leadership means a lot to me. To be able to receive the inaugural award means a lot more."

The award was dreamed up by the WHHA to honor Decatur's birthday, Jan. 5, association president Stewart McLaurin told Navy Times, with a ceremony and luncheon at the commodore's home across the street from the White House, now a museum and event space.

"The award is to look to a young — not necessarily a midshipman, not necessarily a service academy student — but a young future leader of our country," he said.

Decatur himself commanded his first ship at age 22, rising to the rank of captain the following year, McLaurin said. He fought in the Barbary Wars in the Mediterranean and in the War of 1812 back home, later serving as naval commissioner.

"We were looking for someone who is not only a leader on the football field," McLaurin said. "This is not a football award, this event is not about football. But he demonstrates a balanced leadership in all parts of his Naval Academy engagement."

Before Reynolds was selected, the association signed up Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter as the keynote speaker. In his speech, Carter gave a detailed history of Decatur's war exploits before going on to praise not only Reynolds, but his team.

"What you may not know is, besides the winning record that we’ve had this year, the seniors on this team have prospered to a level that I don’t know we’ve ever seen before," he said.

And that's not a 2.5, he added. The team's seniors have a collective 3.15 GPA.

Army Navy Football game
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds breaks away for a long run and a 1st quarter touchdown during the Army-Navy football game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on December 12.
Photo Credit: Alan Lessig/Staff

Reynolds received the award, a framed print of Decatur's frigate United States battling the British HMS Macedonian, from former Navy Secretary John Dalton.

"Keenan Reynolds is a winner, there’s no doubt about that. But he’s also selfless," Dalton said, recalling that late in the season Reynolds opted to throw to a teammate rather than running and trying to set a rushing record, believing the pass was more likely to gain yardage. Reynolds shattered the NCAA record for most career touchdowns by a quarterback and was a fan favorite in Heisman Trophy voting, finishing fifth overall.

Reynolds' college football career is over, and he's looking forward to spending his last few months at the academy as just another mid, he said.

He is slated to become an information warfare officer after graduation, but in the meantime, he's looking forward to taking on a leadership position in the brigade and getting his grades up.

"I want to graduate with a 3.0 overall," he said.

He's also mulling a shot at an NFL draft selection, getting tips from former mid Joe Cordona, the 2014 graduate who left active duty last year after he was picked up by the New England Patriots.

"If I am, so be it. I’m committed to the Navy," he said. "And if I get an opportunity to go play, I’ll definitely take it, but I’m just enjoying my time right now."

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