RENTON, Wash. (NNS) -- It's nothing new for a Sailor to have a sea bag full of uniforms, but for Lt. j.g. Keenan Reynolds, his bag is a little heavier. There is one extra uniform, that of a Seattle Seahawk.
Reynolds, a reserve cryptologic warfare officer and 2016 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, broke multiple records during his four years at the academy, including a 32 - 13 record, the most wins in school history by a quarterback. The naval academy retired Reynolds' number, 19, making him the fourth person in school history to have this honor.
Reynolds stellar collegiate performance caught the eye of many NFL teams. Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter granted Reynolds the rare opportunity to further his football career by allowing him to serve his obligated time as a reserve officer and complete his drill time in the off season.
"It's a blessing to have the opportunity to be able to do both," said Reynolds. "Playing football has always been a childhood dream and I've had a football in my hands as long as I can remember. I remember growing up and watching some of these guys play. So to be out here with them is surreal. It's an interesting combination being on both sides of the coin.
"You'd be surprised, a lot of people here [in the NFL] want to know what we do on the military side and want to know about the academy and the process of how I serve," he said. "On the flip side, when I drill, people want to know about the NFL, what life is like, what this player is like. It's cool to have perspective from both of them and introduce people into new ways of thinking."
Reynolds mentioned that making the switch from quarterback to receiver was tough after playing quarterback his whole life, but having many people invested in him at the academy has helped him immensely.
"Having mentors you can draw on and being an empty cup allows you to gain that knowledge and grow your leadership," said Reynolds. "When you have graduated and are in the fleet, you have these four years of experiences from the academy to draw back on to be a good leader. I think that ties directly into football. I try to learn as much as I can off the field so that when I'm on the field ... I can draw back on what I've learned and allow it to help me be more successful."
Reynolds says he remembers his first year at the academy and that no privileges are guaranteed, very much like rookie season.
"[At the academy] you have to earn everything and respect your elders," said Reynolds. "It's kind of the same thing as a rookie. You're coming into a place where people have been playing for years and have tremendous experience. You have to respect that and be willing to be a follower. There's a bunch of little tricks of the trade that people don't know about and you don't know in college. When you get [to the NFL] you have to be humble enough to serve. So I think that humility instilled in me early on at the academy from really helped me my rookie year."
Reynolds was selected to play in the 2016 East-West Shrine games but was unable to play due to back pain. Even though he never stepped foot on the field he was awarded the Pat Tillman award, presented to a player who shows the best character, sportsmanship and service both on and off the field.
"[The NFL] is a little different than expected; it's a learning process and having the experience from the academy was a learning process as well," said Reynolds. "I think being at the academy has helped me navigate through the NFL. It isn't easy. The academy isn't easy. There's going to be some ups and downs. The whole point of it is being able to push through and have perseverance and being able to find the light at the end of the tunnel."
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