Keenan Reynolds was named the second best player outside the Power Five by NFL.com college football writer Huguenin recently and it yet again sparks an interesting debate for Navy football fans.
Who's better: Navy's current record breaking quarterback or Ricky Dobbs, the quarterback who was breaking records during his tenure in Annapolis?
Well, that question can be partially answered right now because Dobbs' career as a Midshipmen is over so there's an entire body of work to go through there.
Reynolds, on the other hand, has one more season and can break even more records if he can rush for 1,300 yards and score 14 touchdowns this season. Reynolds' legacy will continue to grow making the debate incomplete right now.
However, both players' trajectories have been similar but distinct.
Dobbs only broke into the lineup sparingly as a sophomore due to injuries to Kaipo -Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and Jarod Bryant. Due to this limited action, Dobbs didn't put up crazy numbers as a freshman and sophomore like Reynolds. Though, Dobbs did show his skills as a sophomore nonetheless.
With Notre Dame trouncing the Midshipmen 27-7 in the fourth quarter, Dobbs was given the green light to hit the field late in the third quarter and nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback. With less than 100 seconds left in the game, Navy scored two touchdowns, recovered two onside kicks, and Dobbs nearly found the third touchdown but his pass sailed over his receiver's head.
That would be the only time Dobbs lost to Notre Dame.
Dobbs would go on to have a fantastic junior season compiling 1,203 yards rushing with 27 touchdowns (a record at the time). His senior season would be less impressive as he rushed for 967 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Like Dobbs, Reynolds' coming out party was against a bitter rival. Navy was embarrassed for three losses in four games and their season was spiraling out of control until the Air Force game. Then starting QB Trey Miller couldn't hold onto the football for the past four weeks and continued his ball control issues in Colorado Springs. So in the fourth quarter, head coach Ken Niumatalolo sent out his freshman quarterback to lead a comeback while trailing 21-13.
Reynolds would make the seemingly insane decision into a masterstroke of genius. Reynolds led a 75-yard drive capped off by his own 15-yard touchdown run. Navy tied the game at 21 with a two-point conversion. Then in overtime, Reynolds would fumble the ball into the endzone but it would be recovered by Navy to gain the game winning score.
Reynolds became the starter from that game on. His sophomore campaign trumped Dobbs' junior season statistically as Reynolds rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns.
In fact, Reynolds has the numbers over Dobbs. Reynolds' career 3,186 rushing yards and 2,798 passing yards eclipse Dobbs' 2665 and 2770 respective numbers. Reynolds beats out Dobbs in touchdowns as Keenan's collected 64 thus far while Ricky rushed for 49. And in the passing game, Reynolds has more touchdown passes and less interceptions than Dobbs (Reynolds has 23 TD and 7 INTs, Dobbs 20 TDs and 10 INTS).
So where's the debate? Scroll back up to where it said Dobbs only lost once to Notre Dame. Yes, while Reynolds has the stats, Dobbs has one season of major accomplishments.
In 2009, Dobbs led possibly the greatest season in modern Navy football history. It was the only season in the history of the Midshipmen where Navy beat Notre Dame, Air Force, Army, won a bowl game (a 35-13 defeat of Missouri in the Texas Bowl), and finished with 10 victories.
Reynolds has never defeated the Fighting Irish, although he came very close the past two seasons, and while he's won two bowl games neither San Diego State or Middle Tennessee carries the same weight as beating the Tigers. Reynolds has yet to lead the Middies to a 10-win season as well.
Expectations may stand in the way of that though as both quarterbacks saw limited in the face of grand designs. Fans had delusions of grandeur that Dobbs and the 2010 could go undefeated and make it to the Rose Bowl due to a loophole in that season's selection process that would allow an at-large bid for the "Granddaddy Of Them All." Those dreams died in the first week with a loss to the Maryland Terrapins.
Last season, Reynolds and Navy were expected to trounce their way to an 11-1 or 10-2 scheduled. But an injury to Reynolds limited his effectiveness early in the season and losses to Western Kentucky and a mystifying defeat at the hands of Air Force put a kibosh on those aspirations.
The key difference remains this: Reynolds gets a shot at redemption this season. Dobbs' career ended with the disappointment of not living up to completely unrealistic expectations, Reynolds still has a shot to beat Notre Dame, Air Force, and Army one more time. And do one thing Dobbs never did: win the American Athletic Conference.
But is that asking too much? Maybe. Maybe not, if Huguenin's rankings are accurate.
Who do you think is the better Navy quarterback? Does Ricky Dobbs' victories over Notre Dame and Missouri clinch it for you? Or is the dynamic Keenan Reynolds your man? Sound off in the comment section below.