Running down a dream

DAN TOTH, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

Sun football writer Dan Toth sat down with Joffrey Reynolds, who just produced the fifth-best rushing season in Stamps history. The Texas kid has always had an urge to run.

Benny Reynolds might understand more clearly than anyone what makes his son, Calgary Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds, such a dynamic player.

It seems that ever since Joffrey was six years old, the kid has always thought he owned the football.

"At one point in Pop Warner he said he was going to quit," Joffrey's proud father recalls from his home in Houston, Tex.

"They have a rule that every child has to play and Joffrey didn't like that. On every play, he wanted the ball and having to take turns carrying the ball with another kid made Joffrey very angry, so he wanted to quit.

"I told him only losers quit."

Twenty years later, Reynolds is hardly a quitter, still begging for the ball while the Stampeders have been only too thrilled to give it to him.

A running back since Day 1 in Pop Warner, Reynolds received a boatload of carries this season, compiling 1,437 rushing yards, second in the CFL, on 247 carries. It's the fifth-best season by a Stampeders back, putting him just shy of Lovell Coleman's 1,509-yard campaign back in 1965, 14 years before Reynolds was born.

An only child, Reynolds' parents divorced when Joffrey was just six. While he spent time with both his mom and dad throughout his formative years, it was his father who recognized Joffrey's athletic ability and searched for an outlet.

"I was living with my dad and I started Pop Warner when I was six. I was supposed to be seven but I started a year earlier to play tackle football," says Reynolds, 25.

"I snuck in and it took off from there.

"I had a buddy whose dad was one of the Pop Warner football coaches and my thing was I liked to run. He had a son who was pretty fast and I beat his son running so he asked my dad if he would mind bringing me out and playing a little football. I didn't quite meet the age requirement yet. I always played running back because I was fast as a kid and started out there."

Reynolds' mom, Lorraine, moved from Houston to Tyler, Tex., when Joffrey was in middle school and he went with her, taking along his football dream. Those aspirations were almost side-tracked by an injury in high school, spurring Reynolds to begin pondering a career in the military.

"Once I got to high school, I had a dream of being a pro. But in high school, my junior year, I messed my ankle up real bad and didn't have a good season overall, so I didn't know if I'd get a scholarship or what I'd do," Reynolds remembers.

"We have army recruiters down there and I had made arrangements to join the army because I didn't think I'd get a football scholarship. My parents definitely didn't have the money to send me to college like I wanted. I was making other plans but I was blessed my senior year to have a good season."

The University of Houston offered Reynolds a scholarship and his skills continued flourishing even though the team struggled. He still holds the team record for a 300-yard game against East Carolina.

Despite his personal successes, the Stampeders upcoming playoff berth will be his first real chance for a post-season title.

"In high school we went to the playoffs but I've never won like a state championship game or anything," Reynolds says.

"I would like for that to happen in my career and with us going to the playoffs, I'd love for that to happen."

While Reynolds is making his mark in the CFL and enjoyed a taste of the NFL with the St. Louis Rams in 2003 before a brief stint with the New York Giants, he's not the best back from Tyler. That honour still belongs to former Houston Oilers legend Earl Campbell, a former Texas Longhorn and 1977 Heisman Trophy winner.

"When I was in high school the first two years -- John Tyler high school -- that's the school he went to, so of course I was always aware of the special stuff he achieved. I knew a lot about him, he won the Heisman at the University of Texas, things like that.

"I've seen some film and he could put it on people, he could put it on people good."

With continued success in the CFL, it's possible Reynolds could get another shot at the NFL. He enters his option year following the 2006 CFL season when he could draw offers from football's brightest stage.

"Maybe," says Reynolds, who is 5-ft. 10-in., 218 lb. "You think about doing the best here so that you can always have that option. I just want to do well here so that if it ever comes down to it, I could have that option or stay here."

Although never drafted into the NFL, the former Houston Cougar signed with the Rams as a free agent where he played four games in 2003 before suffering another injury.

"I went to St. Louis, spent time on the roster and was activated, then I tore some ligaments in my ankle and got cut after that," says Reynolds, who eventually wound up in NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire before finally signing with the Stampeders last autumn.

"I thought I was Superman and could play through it but I was really hurt.

"I went to NFL Europe and wasn't 100 percent. Then I came back home and rested myself and started rehab to make my ankle stronger. When I came up here the last five games (of 2004 season) I was able to run like

I could in college."

His eventual transition to the CFL and life in Calgary was much easier than he anticipated, especially after a difficult time adapting to life in Germany.

"That was one of the things I worried about when I came up here," Reynolds admits. "I'd just come from Germany and

I couldn't help but wonder how different it would be. Now

I like it a lot and I'm really impressed with how much alike Calgary is with Texas."

Back home, his parents will watch on TV as the team hosts the Edmonton Eskimos in the West semifinal.

"They're proud and watch the games on TV back home," Reynolds says. "They know I've played well."

- - -

WHAT A RUSH

Reynolds produces fifth-best totals in Stampeders history

1. WILLIE BURDEN, 1975 -- 1,896 yards

2. EARL LUNSFORD, 1961 -- 1,794 yards

3. LOVELL COLEMAN, 1964 -- 1,629 yards

4. LOVELL COLEMAN, 1965 -- 1,509 yards

5. JOFFREY REYNOLDS, 2005 -- 1,437 yards

6. KELVIN ANDERSON, 2001 -- 1,383 yards

7. EARL LUNSFORD, 1960 -- 1,343 yards

8. LOVELL COLEMAN, 1963 -- 1,343 yards


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