Keenan Reynolds can defer his military service to play in the NFL, according to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. The Baltimore Ravens rookie will be able to suit up for the team this season.
The college football player has had supporters speaking out in recent weeks, with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus saying that he was “confident” there was a way for Reynolds to play in the NFL and fulfill his military commitment, KCCI reports. Mabus added that he “can’t think of a better ambassador for the United States Navy or for the United States military than” Reynolds.
Carter made the announcement Friday during his graduation speech at the Naval Academy. This was considered the final step in allowing Keenan Reynolds to play for the Baltimore Ravens.
“It is a blessing to hear the news from Defense Secretary Carter,” Reynolds said. “I am truly excited to proudly serve my country while having the ability fulfill my dream of playing for the best organization in the NFL.”
It was two weeks ago when Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus submitted a request and “strongly recommended” that Reynolds be cleared to join the NFL after a standout college career, YAHOO Sports reported.
“This is good news,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said, “and congratulations to Keenan on his graduation today.”
The Ravens drafted Reynolds in the sixth round and are looking to turn the triple-option quarterback into a wide receiver and returner in the NFL. He finished his college career as the FBS’ all-time leader in total touchdowns (88), rushing yards by a quarterback (4,559) and points scored (530).
Mabus recently said he couldn’t think of “a better ambassador for the United States Navy or for the United States military than Keenan Reynolds.”
“I would like to thank the Navy for allowing me to represent them while taking advantage of this unique opportunity,” Reynolds said.
Military obligations have had an impact on professional sports in the past. David Robinson served two years in the Navy after being drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 1987 before he played in an NBA game in 1989.
CBS Baltimore said Keenan Reynolds was fighting an uphill battle to make the Ravens roster as a sixth-round draft pick, but he does possess great versatility that makes him an intriguing talent. He’s listed as a wide receiver and return specialist on the team’s official roster page, so if he shows good ability at either position in training camp, his status could evolve into something more prominent before the regular season starts in September.