ANNAPOLIS, Md. - It is a big weekend for college football, but it is a bigger weekend for Navy. It is a team that truly embodies the spirit of leadership.
"Across the board, everybody is getting groomed to be a leader someday,” said Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
He is coming off a game to remember against Southern Methodist University after throwing for a touchdown and running into Navy history as the Midshipmen’s all-time leading rusher.
Now, he is one touchdown away from the all-time NCAA career record and he will try to do it on a little less rest.
"Fortunately, it's not our first time playing during a holiday week,” said Reynolds. “We had the game last year on Friday. Just really focusing on recovery and trying to get our legs back. We got one less day."
The Midshipmen have gone 9-1 so far this season. It is a team made up of remarkable young men with much more than football on their plate. So what has made the difference for the Midshipmen?
“We just bond together, we all love each other and we play for another and the people who graduated before us,” said Navy fullback Chris Swain. “And we really take that into account when we go out on the field every Saturday."
"The way they approached it, very business-like, very professional in the preparation,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “And because of them and the standard they have set, it's been easy for other guys to follow."
But for these men, football is just a diversion. Last week, Navy's 32 seniors got their service assignments. Swain received surface warfare while Reynolds got information warfare.
They are putting their heart and soul on the field knowing full well what is around the corner when their time here ends.
"You can only focus what you can control,” said Reynolds. “And obviously in a few months, that will be my world. At the same time, for the younger guys, that’s nothing they can do about it now but continue to prepare themselves both academically and also as leaders."
There is talk Reynolds might have played himself into late contention for the Heisman Trophy -- like another legendary quarterback from the Naval Academy.
"He's got my vote,” said Roger Staubach, who won the award back in 1963.
"Got rid of Twitter and Facebook on my phone so I don't have to be exposed to that,” Reynolds said.
Navy’s next game is on Friday at noon against Houston. The winner of the game goes on to play in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game against Temple or South Florida.