In more than 20 years of coaching, Ken Niumatalolo has watched many players develop and grow. And even though he is in the midst of his second season with Keenan Reynolds, the Navy coach is quite impressed by the sophomore quarterback.
Niumatalolo shared a story about Reynolds after he threw for a career-high 233 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 51-7 demolition of Delaware Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“We eat by class – seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen – and we start off with the starters,” Niumatalolo said. “He should be the first guy eating. [But] he never eats with the starters. He always eats with the sophomores. I think our team sees that and see that this guy is not a prima donna. He is who he is, he’s not going to try to get anything extra, but our kids rally around him.”
Reynolds is quick to credit his teammates, especially the offensive line, for his personal success, which he did after the victory over the Blue Hens. Other players do that, but Niumatalolo said Reynolds is different.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Niumatalolo said. “I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but I’m not an idiot. This guy, he’s good. He’s smart. Every time he does something, you’re like, ‘Wow.’ … The guy makes us a lot smarter. He’s having a great season. He’s just got to keep it going. He’s got to stay humble and hungry. Fortunately, he comes from great parents who have humbled him, and I think the kid will stay the course. He understands.”
While the Midshipmen prepare for a bye this weekend, they will practice the early portion of the weekend without being under the watchful eye of Niumatalolo. He is traveling to Hawaii on Sunday to attend the funeral of his mother Lamala, who died Sept. 5.
Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper and defensive coordinator Buddy Green will manage the practices in Niumatalolo’s place.
“I leave [Sunday],” the head coach said. “Coach Jasper, Coach Green and the staff will be there for practice. I told our guys that I don’t do anything in practice anyway. All I do is walk around. So we’ll be fine.”