Keenan Reynolds accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game – he thought – as a quarterback.
Well, about that …
"When I got invited to the [East-West] Shrine game, I saw that I wasn't a quarterback anymore, and I was like 'Well, this is fun,'" Reynolds said Friday on the first day of the Ravens' two-day rookie minicamp.
"I looked at the article and went to the quarterbacks and my name wasn't there. I kept going and got to the running backs and it said 'Keenan Reynolds.' I was like 'Alright, I guess I'm playing running back.'"
His father called, asking if Reynolds had seen the article.
"He was a little upset, but I was like 'Hey, it's just an opportunity to play,'" Reynolds said.
The Ravens don't see Reynolds as a quarterback or running back. They drafted him to be a wide receiver and returner.
It will be quite an adjustment for the Navy signal caller who has a scroll of accomplishments and records to his name.
In Navy's triple-option offense, Reynolds often ran with the football. During his senior year (13 games) he had just 115 passing attempts for 1,203 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. He was effective when he threw, but it wasn't his greatest asset.
It is playmaking in space and running ability that makes Reynolds special. His 88 rushing touchdowns are the most in NCAA Division I history (including FBS and FCS), leading to him being initially pegged as a running back.
The Ravens have a stable of running backs and feel Reynolds can do more damage when further away from the big bodies inside the hash marks. Reynolds has the quickness to make defenders miss and the smarts to get open against complex NFL defenses. He can be a jack-of-all trades out of the slot.
It's perhaps fitting that his college career was capped by a 47-yard trick play catch in last season's Military Bowl victory over Pittsburgh. It was the only reception in his entire college career.
Reynolds said he doesn't have a preference between receiver and running back.
"Whatever I can do to get the ball in space because that's where I succeed and excel at," he said. "Whatever positions the team sees me able to do and be successful, then I will accept that role."
Reynolds has already begun his research on making the position change. He worked with former Redskins and Eagles returner Brian Mitchell during the pre-draft process, and on Friday Reynolds revealed that he's also spoken with former longtime Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward about the move from quarterback to receiver. Ward played quarterback, running back and wide receiver during his time at Georgia.
"I know that's like a cardinal sin in this building," Reynolds said with a laugh. "We got to talk before the draft, to ease anybody's mind. … He gave me some tips and tricks and things to work on to perfect my craft."
Reynolds will have to be a quick study to carve out a place in the Ravens offense this season.
The wide receiver corps is deep and competitive with Steve Smith Sr., Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Butler, Marlon Brown,Michael Campanaro and fourth-round pick Chris Moore* *already on board. Reynolds would seem to fit into a slot role that Campanaro has occupied when healthy.
Reynolds said the biggest challenge in his evolution as a receiver will be the technique. He'll spend a lot of time with Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram this summer.
"Guys have spent years – 10, 15 years-plus perfecting these techniques, and I'm a newborn in this position," Reynolds said. "I just have to work extremely hard – twice as hard as the next man."