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Navy grants Keenan Reynolds permission to play for Ravens

Turron Davenport | 5/20/2016, 8 a.m.
The Baltimore Ravens have always made a point of showing appreciation for the military.
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds celebrates with a Navy officer after a victory in the 2015 season. Reynolds was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. (Courtesy Photo/www.navysports.com)

The Baltimore Ravens have always made a point of showing appreciation for the military. Under Coach John Harbaugh, the team has held a practice at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium during training camp, as well as Military Appreciation Day during their camps.

Keenan Reynolds was the Ravens sixth round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Reynolds was a record setting quarterback at Navy, but will be asked to change positions in the NFL. One of the issues that came with his draft status was being able to play football while having to honor his military commitment.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus gave Reynolds the green light to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. In Mabus’ mind, Reynolds will shine a bright light on the Naval Academy.

"I'm confident that we can work something out for Keenan to do both, to serve his country and to play professional football. I can't think of a better ambassador for the United States Navy or for the United States military than Keenan Reynolds," Mabus told the Dan Patrick Show recently. "When we have guys coming out of the Naval Academy who go on and play professional sports, or go on and do other things that are high profile, it gives us a chance to show who we are and show the type of people that we attract and recruit."

Graduates of the Naval Academy are required to serve a five-year term in exchange for a free education. The term is supposed to start immediately after the graduates receive their degree.

Obviously, that would prevent Reynolds from being able to start his NFL career.

Reynolds was prepared to serve his term if that was what was asked of him. The commitment is still a requirement, but Reynolds will be allowed to do so in increments rather than a straight five-year term.

Being able to make arrangements to still fill his obligations while playing football mirrors the many things he will be asked to do on the football field.

Reynolds will be asked to play running back, wide receiver and contribute on special teams in Baltimore. The all-purpose player just wants to be able to contribute to the Ravens success.

“Whatever I can do to get the ball in space, because that’s where I succeed and excel,” Reynolds said. “Whatever positions this team sees me able to do that and be successful, I accept that role.”

Reynolds wouldn’t be the first college quarterback to do multiple things in an NFL offense. His role will likely be similar to Hines Ward, a former University of Georgia quarterback and all-purpose player. Ward excelled as a wide receiver and return man for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Reynolds reached out to Ward for advice and it turns out that Ward was a star for the Ravens archrival.

“Ward gave me some tips and tricks to work on to perfect my craft,” Reynolds said. “It’s like a cardinal sin, but we talked before the draft.”