Friday, October 26, 2012
Quarterback takes winding road to Ferrum
Tim Reynolds is leading the first-place Panthers four years after Ferrum intially tried to recruit him.
Tim ReynoldsFerrum quarterback
Year: third-year sophomore (in football eligibility)
Previous colleges: Florida A&M, Northern Virginia Community College, New River Community College
This season: has completed 73 of 123 passes for 1,163 yards and seven TDs with five interceptions; has run for 569 yards and 11 TDs on 118 carries.
Major: health and human performance
FERRUM - Tim Reynolds is not like most sophomores at Ferrum College.
This is his fourth college.
And he is 22 years old.
Another difference? He is the starting quarterback for the Ferrum football team.
Four years after graduating high school, Reynolds is finally getting a chance to shine. After an unhappy season as the backup to former Ferrum QB Marcus Mayo, Reynolds is a big reason the Panthers are tied for first place in the USA South. He makes coach Dave Harper's option offense click with his passing and running talents.
He is determined to leave Ferrum with plenty of wins - and a degree.
"When I was in high school, I just never studied. My mom always pushed me to do it," he said. "I'm older now. â? This is my last opportunity.
"I'm not going to let Coach Harper down, my mom down, my sister down or myself."
Reynolds grew up in Arlington, Va. His parents divorced when he was 10 years old.
His mother then raised Reynolds and his older sister as a single parent, working three jobs to support the family.
"I had a good support system," said Reynolds' mother, Christina Reynolds Riley, who remarried four years ago. "My brother and my stepfather were men in his life. He always had positive men in his life."
The middle name and date of birth of Reynolds' mother are tattooed on Reynolds' left arm. His sister's middle name and date of birth are tattooed on his right arm.
Before every game, and before each Ferrum possession, Reynolds taps those tattoos.
"I play for my mom and my sister," he said.
At Yorktown High School, Reynolds' coach was Bruce Hanson, who had been a Chantilly High School assistant when Harper played for Chantilly.
When Reynolds was Yorktown's QB, Harper began recruiting him after getting a recommendation from Hanson.
But Reynolds wanted to give FCS football a try. He decided to become a walk-on receiver at the school his mother once attended, Florida A&M.
"Ferrum was probably the place to go right out of high school, but me being young, big-headed, I think, 'I can go D-I,'" he said.
Reynolds redshirted the 2008 season at Florida A&M, practicing but not playing in games. He eventually had to stop practicing because the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled him academically ineligible for that season because of his high school transcript.
After spending the 2008-09 school year at Florida A&M, Reynolds decided not to return to the team or the university. Saddened by the death of his paternal grandmother, he wanted to be back with his family. He also felt guilty for the financial burden he was putting on his mother.
His grades weren't good, either.
"I wasn't focused," he said. "I was young. â? I didn't do so well academically down there.
"It was a party life."
He returned home and spent the fall of 2009 working for a day care program. He attended Northern Virginia Community College the following spring.
Reynolds wanted to join Ferrum for the 2010 season, but he said he was not admitted. So he spent the 2010-11 school year at New River Community College.
"It gave me a lot of time to prepare myself academically," he said. "That spring I ended up getting good grades and I said, 'I can do this school thing. I'm not an idiot.'"
While attending New River, Reynolds played for the now-defunct Virginia Sports Academy in Christiansburg during the 2010 season. It was not a college team.
That squad played Ferrum's junior varsity team. The Ferrum coaches began recruiting Reynolds again.
He wanted to join Shepherd or Glenville State for the 2011 season, but he said he did not get his transcript to either school in time.
There was still time to join the Panthers. Reynolds and his mother flew to Florida A&M, paid off his tuition bill there thanks to a loan his mother got, and retrieved his transcript.
He was finally headed to Ferrum.
Waiting his turn
Reynolds was Ferrum's second-string quarterback last fall. He was stuck behind Mayo, a two-time USA South offensive player of the year who as a senior helped the Panthers finish in second place last fall.
"Last year, it kind of humbled me, knowing that I could probably compete, â? but him being a senior and me being a new face, this was his show," Reynolds said.
Reynolds lobbied to change positions so he could get some playing time somewhere on the field last year, but he was rebuffed by the coaches. Ferrum was already stocked at other positions, and Harper didn't want to risk his No. 2 quarterback getting hurt.
"There were times when I was like, 'I could just be doing school. I don't need to be out here if I'm not going to play, knowing that I'm good enough to play anywhere on the field,'" Reynolds said.
"I told him, 'If you're patient, your next three years will be unbelievable,'" Harper said.
His reward has come this season. Reynolds has been the starting quarterback since the opener.
"I had a lot of pressure. Marcus Mayo was a good player," Reynolds said. "Every game, I've got to be better than the guy before me."
Reynolds has completed 73 of 123 passes (59.3 percent) for 1,163 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.
"He has a great touch for the deep ball," Harper said.
The 6-foot, 182-pound Reynolds is also the team's leading rusher. He has run for 569 yards and 11 touchdowns on 118 carries.
"It's hard to get a clean shot on him," Harper said.
Reynolds missed practice Tuesday because of a sprained foot, but he returned Wednesday and will play Saturday when the Panthers (5-2, 3-1) visit Greensboro. Ferrum is tied for first with Christopher Newport and LaGrange.
Reynolds, who would like to be a coach when he graduates, has become a team leader.
"Tim is one of those rare guys that people believe in and listen to," Harper said. "Ferrum College is very fortunate to have someone on this campus like him."
Reynolds is pleased with how he is doing on and off the field.
"I'm more mature," he said. "I'm studying all the time.
"I feel like I'm succeeding - as a person, as a player."
His mother is happy too.
"It's been a long journey for him, but I think a positive journey," she said.