If you’re an NFL fan and you don’t already know the name, Craig Reynolds, chances are you will soon. Reynolds is a former Kutztown running back who’s record-breaking statistics caught the attention of pro scouts.
Watching a small school, division II guy rise up in the NFL has always been really, really cool. And if anything, it’s an indication that these are the type of athletes who will bust their ass every day at practice or in any in-game action they get.
“The mentality of how he treats every day, he doesn’t take anything for granted out on the court. And then one of the big things he always said was, ‘Why not?’ and when I was growing up, coming through the back end of high school and going through college, I said, “Why not?” Why can’t I be a kid from Kutztown and make it to the NFL?”
A ‘Childhood Dream”
Reynolds started playing football when he was just 5-years-old. Throughout his childhood and collegiate career, he dreamt of eventually playing in the NFL.
He finished his collegiate career at Kutztown University as the school’s third all-time leading rusher with 2,650 yards and second in school history with 5,277 all-purpose yards.
The 23-year-old is currently on his way to beating the odds that DII athletes are not pro worthy. The Monday after the 2018 draft, Reynolds got a call from the Washington Redskins with an invite to a mini rookie camp. Jay Gruden, Redskins OC had discovered Reynolds on a small school’s website and decided to give him a shot.
Reynolds remembers stepping on the field for the first time was a “surreal” moment.
“You go from playing at division II where there are not that many people at the games, compared to what is at an NFL game. Going in and seeing those thousands of people, but once the ball is kicked and you’re starting to hit people it’s like, it’s football again.”
Reynolds worked hard enough to make it past the first round of cuts. But once the roster was finalized, he was signed to the practice squad. In the middle of the season, Redskins RB Chris Thompson was ruled out due to a toe injury, so Reynolds was promoted to step in. Reynolds played three games as a Redskin.
“I just worked really hard to get there [NFL], continuing to control what I could and let the chips fall where they may and just doing what I know how to do, and that’s just work hard and put the time in. It’s definitely a blessing. I wouldn’t be here without the man upstairs for sure. Things happen at the right time and opportunities present themselves, but yeah it’s been great, definitely a childhood dream.”
Once he was released by the Redskins, the Falcons picked him almost immediately.
Born in Philly, Grew Up a Falcons Fan?
Ironically, Reynolds is a Philly guy who grew up a Falcons fan. It makes no sense, right? Well, when he was just a kid, he met former Penn State and Falcons’ defensive back, Bryan Scott, and started following his career.
“It’s pretty awesome. As I was going through high school and college seeing those guys play and then now being on the same team as them and watching those guys just work day in and day out at practice. You see the time and the effort they put in, not only on the field but in the classroom. It’s great to watch and it’s a attest to see why they perform so well on Sundays.”
Matt Ryan is also a Philly guy and made it a point to welcome Reynolds to the team last season.
“He’s a great guy. He came up to me when I first got there. He’s from the 215 area so he knew where Kutztown was. So did Matt Schaub. So, it was pretty cool to talk to them when I first got there and talk about our area.”
Possibly Reynolds’ Year
The Falcons’ running back situation is looking a little cloudy with Devonta Freeman basically gone. Reynolds is ready to step up whenever he needs to. He’s been spending the offseason back in Philly training harder than ever.
“I came back to Pennsylvania to come home and see family, and train, to focus on myself. One thing that got me to where I am now and one of my big life mottos I live my life by is; control what I can control, and that’s just how hard you work, your attitude, and how you present yourself. And that’s what I plan on doing day in and day out.”
Reynolds considers himself an athlete and has the versatility the Falcons have been looking for in recent players. He played both sides of the ball in high school at safety and running back. Kutztown was the only school to offer him at tailback, so he went with them. But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to move positions.
“It’s a new year, new things can happen, I consider myself an athlete, if they [Falcons] asked me to do anything, yeah I would do it.”
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‘Look Good Play Good ‘
Of course, I had to ask Reynolds about the new uniforms. Unfortunately, he has no idea what they’re going to look like, nobody does. But he did mention he was very excited.
“I have no idea, I am very excited to see what they look like. Look good play good. Yeah, I was one of those people. I had to look good just so I could play good. It’s a ‘comfortable’ thing.”
Reynolds’ No. 1 Career Goal
When asked about his year and longterm career goals Reynolds was quick to say “win.” Reynolds has nothing but a Super Bowl mindset for 2020.
“The number one thing is you want to play and win a Super Bowl, of course, that’s the number one thing, that’s why you play the game. You want to win, you want to be on top. And then you know, just doing whatever my team needs me to do to help us win. That’s my biggest thing. I just like winning a lot. And that’s why I play. I don’t like losing, I’m a very sore loser. I like to compete.”
Reynolds knows anyone can be gone at any moment, but he doesn’t worry about that. He shows up each day ready to work. He’ll be back to work with the Falcons in April and is looking forward to the new season.