When Joffrey Reynolds came running into the CFL, observers were amazed at his ability to read formations and find holes.
The Houston, Tex., product was just happy he could find the stadium.
The running back arrived in Calgary straight from Germany where he spent a season in NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire.
His agent arranged a deal with the Calgary Stampeders and Reynolds arrived after the 2004 Labour Day matchups with Edmonton. His first thought was, 'Oh, no. Not another new country.'
He was pleased to find out Calgary is basically Houston's Canadian cousin.
"I had just come from NFL Europe in the spring and over there, it was such a culture shock going there from the States," Reynolds said. "I expected the same thing coming up here.
"When I got here and I could read the signs, people spoke English and there were a few of the same stores as back home, the transition was really good.
"It was a pretty city to come to. I feel pretty comfortable. I'm having a good time here. A lot of places I've been to, I would get pretty homesick. But I feel pretty good here."
The 25-year-old got off to an amazing start to his CFL career. In just 14 games in less than a full year, Reynolds has 1,209 yards along the ground.
He's been compared to former Stampeders star Willie Burden and the CFL career rushing leader Mike Pringle for his head-first approach to running.
Blessed with powerful legs and a low centre of gravity, Reynolds powers through arm tackles like a sprinter crossing the finish-line tape.
At 5 ft. 10 in., 218 lb., Reynolds has drive to eat up yardage for years to come. The soft-spoken back prefers not to think past the next game, let alone the next season.
"I never talk about long-term," said Reynolds. "I'm signed for two years plus an option so I'm going to play that out. I'm having a good time and I'm happy here."
Reynolds had a chance to watch the end of Pringle's career and shrugs off the comparisons, especially the suggestion he could be challenging the same rushing records one day.
"That's a long ways away," he said. "I've looked at some of the rushing achievements he has and that would take perseverance and longevity to run those down. I just want to stay on the pace I'm on and keep working."
Reynolds enters his first Labour Day Classic with a lot of curiosity. He compares the excitement to games he played in college where 90,000 fans would show up for a rivalry contest with Texas.
Earlier this season, McMahon Stadium was packed for a matchup with the Roughriders, so Reynolds is hoping the excitement can propel him to a great outing.
"The atmosphere when we played Saskatchewan was intense. It maybe wasn't as many people but the excitement level was there," he said.
Being from Houston, Reynolds got to spend some time with quarterback Henry Burris in the off-season. Burris makes his home in Texas and the two got to know each other before their first training camps in Calgary.
It was nearly the same thing when Reynolds arrived in Calgary. Former University of Houston teammates William Fields and Scott Regimbald were still with the Stamps and helped ease his move to Calgary.
"Those were older guys and they were seniors and I was a freshman in college," Reynolds said. "I hadn't seen them since. When I got here, it was good to come to a team where you know some people.
"It was pretty easy to be here. They showed me around and told me what to do. It was better than going to another country where you don't know anybody."
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Age -- 25.
Born -- Houston.
Years in CFL -- 2.
College -- University of Houston.
Titles -- Set a Houston record with 41 carries for 300 yards in a game against East Carolina.
Did you know -- Has played four games with the St. Louis Rams.