Much of Keenan Reynolds' success during his career at Navy has come from his ability to fake a would-be tackler in one direction and cut the other way, which is kind of like what he did last week with reporters when the subject turned to the Heisman Trophy.
"Sure, I'm definitely grateful to be in the conversation," the senior quarterback said during last week's Army-Navy luncheon at Lincoln Financial Field. "I think every kid has that dream of hoisting the trophy. But that's not why you play the game. It's bigger than just individual awards."
However, when the Heisman Trust announced the names of the finalists for Saturday's award presentation in New York, Reynolds was not among the three, a disappointment to those who wanted to see someone from a service academy who will serve his country after graduation instead of looking to the NFL.
Reynolds' teammates watched the announcement on ESPN together and groaned when they learned of his omission. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was described by a reporter for the Capital Gazette in Annapolis as "crestfallen."
"I'm really disappointed for Keenan, but life goes on," Niumatalolo told the newspaper. "I thought he was really deserving of an invite. What can you do?"
Reynolds took a break Tuesday from preparations for the Army-Navy game Saturday at the Linc for a radio interview with Rich Eisen on Fox Sports Radio and told him, "I can't be upset.
"I've seen a lot of support from the fans and that's definitely been a blessing," the Antioch, Tenn., native said. "It's an honor to kind of be in the conversation especially with the level of competition in college football today and the amount of players that are so good doing great things for their teams.
"For me to be up there would be pretty awesome. So it is what it is. But we're in Army week and I've got to focus on what's right in front of me."
Navy began promoting Reynolds for the award the week of its division showdown against Houston. The academy's two Heisman Trophy winners, Joe Bellino and Roger Staubach, released a joint statement saying, "his on-field achievements coupled with the values he represents makes him the ideal candidate."
It has been quite a career for Reynolds, seeking to become the first quarterback in Army-Navy history to go 4-0. He holds the FBS record for rushing touchdowns with 83, and is two away from breaking the overall Division I career record of 84. He also owns Navy's career rushing record with 4,279 yards.
He has starred in the Army-Navy game. In his freshman year of 2012, his 49-yard pass to Brandon Turner set up his game-winning 8-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes, 41 seconds to play and the Midshipmen's 17-13 win. The next year, also at the Linc, he rushed for 136 yards in the rain and snow in a 34-7 victory.
Reynolds accounted for both Navy touchdowns – one running, one passing – in last year's 17-10 win in Baltimore. Now he goes for the sweep, which will not, as it turns out, be followed by a helicopter ride to New York for the Heisman ceremony.
Maybe some self-promotion would have helped?
"That's not who I am," Reynolds said last week. "I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't want to win it. But I'm not going to advocate for myself. I feel like it's more of a team award than anything. It doesn't sit right with me trying to advocate myself for this or that trophy, not just the Heisman."