Reynolds quietly making name for himself

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Being the other guy is just part of living Joffrey Reynolds' life. By now, the leading rusher in the Canadian Football League is used to it.

He grew up and learned to run in a Friday Night Lights town called Tyler, Texas, home of the celebrated Earl Campbell. No matter what he did, it was never enough.

He went on to star at the University of Houston, ran for 1,600 yards as a senior, scored 13 touchdowns, had a monster 310-yard game against East Carolina. That didn't get him drafted, didn't even get him invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in 2003.

Instead, he signed on with the St. Louis Rams with the hopes of playing running back. They had Marshall Faulk. He had no hope.

Reynolds got cut and signed on with the New York Giants. They had Tiki Barber. Again no hope and eventually no job.

"I was kind of frustrated with football. I went home, figuring it was time to get a job, time for life after football," Reynolds said on the telephone. In between job interviews, the Calgary Stampeders called. The rest is almost history.

If Joffrey Reynolds had played in the high school band, his instrument would have been second fiddle. He may be the best player in the CFL -- along with Charles Roberts and Geroy Simon -- but hardly anyone notices. Last week came the return of Ricky Williams and the trumpets blared off key. This weekend, it's Hall of Fame inductions in Hamilton. With Reynolds, there's always something between him and the headlines.

Last Saturday night, he played against Williams for the first time and left the former Pro-Bowler in his dust. Just the way Charles Roberts did earlier. The little guys from nowhere outperforming the big name from the Miami Dolphins.

Ricky Williams was supposed be make the Argos more explosive, more popular, more dangerous. Remember that? Only none of it has happened.

Ricky was supposed to run for one thousand or two thousand, three thousand yards -- heck, the old CFL quarterback Sean Salisbury predicted on radio that he would run for 4,000 yards.

You name it, he was supposed to run for it. Instead, the Argos trip over themselves, altering their offence and Ricky looks unsuited for the CFL game and this CFL team.

OUTRUNNING RICKY

"Guys at home wouldn't believe this," said Reynolds, almost with an uncomfortable laugh. They wouldn't believe what Reynolds is doing, and wouldn't believe how ordinary the Heisman Trophy winner, collegiate and NFL rushing champ and yes, legend, looks playing a different game in a different land.

On average, every time Reynolds carries the ball he runs for two more yards than does Williams. That's 50% more production on every single carry.

What an indictment of the Argos offence that is and what revealing number for the prolific Reynolds to celebrate.

In 14 games, he has run and caught footballs for 1,580 yards of total offence -- 112 yards per game.

In precisely half the number of games, Williams has managed just 371 yards of offence -- 53 yards a game. Half the number of games. Less than half the offence in each of them.

The comparisons, apparent or not, make Reynolds a little queasy.

He knows who Ricky Williams is, what he has done, and is well aware that he never even got to carry the ball once in the NFL. He lives with that. And he just might be the largest Williams fan in all of Canada. Lives with that, too.

"Ricky Williams is a legend in Texas, I mean a real legend," said Reynolds, who blames the Argos offensive scheme and offensive line -- and not Williams for his lack of success.

The two have never met. Reynolds would like to change that. He wouldn't mind an autograph but more than that, would rather just shake hands with the mythical one post-game tomorrow night at Rogers Centre.

"I enjoy watching him play," Reynolds said. "I always have. He runs hard, tough. He's tough to bring down. You watch, it's going to happen for him."

He just hopes it doesn't start tomorrow night, CFL time.

SEVENTH DEFENCEMAN

The betting is that Ian White and Andy Wozniewski have won jobs on the Leaf defence and Paul Maurice must decide on a seventh defenceman. But it doesn't make sense to sit out a kid every night, preventing his development. He may be better off with vet Brad Brown practising but not playing.

CFL HALL

Matt Dunigan may have played just three seasons for the Argos, but he becomes part of an unrepresented team as he heads to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame this weekend. Dunigan is in but Dick Thornton, Leo Cahill, Granny Liggins, Danny Nykoluk, Pinball Clemons, Dan Ferrone, Hank Ilesic -- all of whom deserve to be -- are not.

T.O. TALK

There is this bearded lady element to everything involving Terrell Owens. He has become the latest athletic freak for a hungry media, which to our detriment, devours them. It doesn't matter what's true. It doesn't matter how ill anyone might be, what matters is T.O. sells. We have all become accomplices to the worst kind of reality television.


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