With the eyes of a sellout crowd at Lincoln Financial Field and millions of military personnel around the world watching his every step, freshman Keenan Reynolds will take the field Saturday in an Army-Navy game for the first time - as the Midshipmen's starting quarterback.
The pressure on the rookie will be enormous, and his nerves likely will be jangling, but he's doing his best to keep as calm as possible.
"I'm trying to tell myself it's probably going to be the same as any other game," Reynolds said earlier this week. "It's just another football game. You can't make the moment bigger than it really is.
"As RGIII [Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III] said, 'You can't make the moment too big that you can't seize it.' You've got to keep perspective on what it is and know you've prepared well and that you're ready to go."
Reynolds has been ready since taking over as the starting quarterback - the first freshman to start a game for Navy at that position since 1991 - in the season's sixth game. The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Tennessean has rushed for 585 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012 while completing 57.5 percent of his passes for 754 yards and eight scores.
Reynolds' initial moment in the spotlight came Oct. 6 at Air Force, when he replaced the injured Trey Miller in the fourth quarter with the Mids trailing, 21-13, and led his team to the tying touchdown and two-point conversion. Navy won the game in overtime.
"At that moment, I can't really tell you what I was thinking," Reynolds said. "My mind was kind of clear, and I was ready to go. I was a little nervous obviously going in, but after that first play, I was fine. I was ready to keep it going.
"I knew how much it meant to those seniors to get that win and try to get a chance to get that [Commander-in-Chief's] trophy back where it belongs. So I couldn't let them down. I had to have their backs."
Even though Miller, a junior who started the season's first five games, was ready to return the next week from an ankle injury, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to stick with Reynolds.
"It was just more of a gut feeling," Niumatalolo said. "Since that time, he's been playing phenomenal."
Reynolds went to Navy from Goodpasture (Tenn.) Christian School as a proficient passer. He threw three touchdown passes, the first Navy player since Chris McCoy in 1997, against Central Michigan.
But 7-4 Navy's offense is built for the run, and Reynolds is fine with that.
"I know that we can't drop back and throw the ball 30 times," he said. "I knew that when I was being recruited by them. But I knew this was a special place. I'm not concerned with passing the ball 100 times a game or stats or anything. I'm just concerned with helping my team get the win."
Saturday's game will provide quite a contrast in quarterback experience. On the opposite sideline from Reynolds will be 2-9 Army's Trent Steelman, making his 46th start.
Reynolds admitted he has a long way to go learning the offense, but his hope for Saturday is to play sound football and help his team win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
"We have to take care of the football," he said. "We've had a history of turning the ball over with them the last few years. So that's been a big emphasis for the past few weeks, to be ball-conscious at all times. We have to be aware and stay sharp."