Navy Football Media Day/Fan Fest Breeds Excitement for 2014 Season
Aug 02, 2014 11:53AM ● Published by Jake Russell
Gallery: 2014 Navy Football Fan Fest/Media Day - Photos by Jake Russell [10 Images] Click any image to expand.
Before heading off to greet fans, head coach Ken Niumatalolo, quarterback Keenan Reynolds, fullback Noah Copeland, safety Parrish Gaines, and linebacker Jordan Drake spoke with the media and gave their opinions on the upcoming season.
The Midshipmen begin their season against Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State on August 30th at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, giving the team a large platform to prove why they went 9-4 in 2013.
The Buckeyes won 24 straight games from 2012 to 2013 before losing their final two games last season.
"We recognize it's going to be tough and everything's been magnified," Niumatalolo says. "I think our kids, they understand that. They know this is a great challenge for them."
"The thing I challenge our team with is if you cannot go to bed every night and look yourself in the mirror at night and say "I did everything I could to get ready,' if you can't honestly say that we're going to get killed," he added. "Our only chance is that all 163 guys on the team when it's all said and done that every day they gave everything they could and our coaches gave everything they could."
"To be honest, this is a dream come true for me," says Reynolds. "Growing up I was a [Florida] Gator fan when [current Ohio State head coach] Urban Meyer was there. I always wanted to be a Florida Gator and play for him so now I get to go play against him. That's pretty cool."
"It means a lot. A lot of things go into this game," Reynolds added. "Like coach said, this is the biggest opener we've ever had, the toughest team we've ever faced."
Last season, Reynolds led the Mids to an undefeated home record (5-0), the team's 12 straight victory over Army, and a 25-6 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. He ran for 1,341 yards and a record 31 touchdowns last year, the most ever by an NCAA quarterback in a single season. He also set an NCAA record by scoring seven rushing touchdowns in a thrilling triple overtime victory on the road against San Jose State last November.
After such an astounding season, the national media has begun to take notice. This summer Reynolds was named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the College Player of the Year, and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, given annually to the nation's top quarterback. He's also considered a sleeper for the distinguished Heisman Trophy, awarded each winter to the best player in all of college football.
For Reynolds, the publicity hasn't affected his approach to the upcoming season.
"The only pressure I feel is the pressure of my teammates," Reynolds says. "They're all counting on me to do my job. So that's really all I'm worried about is trying to win. And those guys are counting on me to be where I need to be, have my eyes where they need to be, get us in the right play."
"All the fanfare, the media hype, all that, it comes with the game and you have to be able to accept it and then move on," he says. "You can't let it linger. You can't let it weigh you down. You can't let it distract you because then it starts to affect your performance. Just as quickly as it came it goes away. That's something my dad reminded me of frequently when I was growing up. He reminds me of it today. Our coaches, they always do a very good job of keeping us as a team humble and down to earth so it's not something that I concern myself with. I just keep grinding every day."
Following the media session, the four players joined their teammates to sign autographs and take pictures with Navy fans of all ages. Fans met awaiting players on the concourse and had their pictures taken with cheeleaders and Navy's mascot Billy the Goat. The team later made its way down to the field, where fans were enjoying games, face paintings, balloon animals, moon bounces, and food and drinks from local establishments.