Offensive lineman Matt Reynolds is fulfilling his destiny in true Reynolds family tradition.
The 6-foot-6, 322-pound junior from Provo definitely proved himself as a leader on the field last year.
After being named first team All-Mountain West Conference and landing a few pre-season awards for this season, Reynolds is on his way to making his mark on BYU. However, he definitely hasn’t done it alone.
“Reynolds brothers” is a well-known term associated with the BYU offensive line. Since 2002, when the first of the Reynolds clan joined the team, the Cougars have received four offensive linemen from the family. The brothers, Lance Jr., Dallas, Matt and Houston (see My Teammates’ Tally on p. 7), all know what it means to play at a collegiate level, together.
Playing football together has certainly become a tradition for these brothers, but it’s a tradition that dates back to childhood, when it was only the simplicity of tossing a football around with Dad.
Since the time he started playing in junior high, Matt has always played with a brother. Having been born in between older brother Dallas and younger brother Houston, it made a perfect situation for Matt to continue playing with his brothers.
This tradition carried through into college football when Dallas graduated and Houston began his career. Lance Jr., the oldest, was able to help Dallas as a freshman, Dallas was able to help Matt and now Matt will have the opportunity to do the same for Houston.
“It’s always nice having somebody to talk to who understands exactly what’s going on,” Reynolds said. “There’s a better connection with them than you could get from any regular friend or teammate. That connection continues both on and off the field with complete trust and constant help.”
Reynolds is luckier than most to have brothers on the team, but he also feels fortunate to have his Dad on the coaching staff.
Now in his 28th season, coach Lance Reynolds Sr. is currently the running back coach and assistant head coach for BYU.
Having a father who coaches college football, definitely has its perks. Reynolds remembers being a kid and getting to meet the BYU football players that his Dad would bring over for barbecues and dinners.
“When you’re young, having BYU football players at your house is unreal,” Reynolds said. “These were guys I watched play and really looked up to.”
John Tait was a player that Matt was able to really connect with. Having played the same position on the offensive line that Reynolds currently plays, Tait set a great example for Reynolds in more ways than one.
Tait played at BYU from 1996-99 after serving a two-year mission to Tennessee. He was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference offensive lineman at BYU and was drafted to the NFL in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1999. Tait played in Kansas City until 2003 before moving to Chicago to play for the Bears from 2004 to 2008. Tait started all 73 games in the five seasons he played with the Bears before deciding to retire after the 2008 season.
“He had everything I wanted and was everything I wanted to be,” Reynolds said. “He was an outstanding player, humble and always had his priorities in line.”
Reynolds saw these qualities as a kid and was able to learn at an early age what was necessary to be a successful football player in every aspect.
“I respect him not just for the player he was, but for the person he is,” said Reynolds. He still receives advice and guidance from Tait as they continue their close friendship.
Reynolds is now one of those BYU players he used to look up to, and is even more grateful for his father’s position on the staff. He remembers his very first game with BYU and how nervous he was.
“He came up to me before the game started and put his arm around me and said, ‘You can do this. You are the guy and you know what you’re doing,’” Matt said. His father’s calming words put Matt’s nerves to rest. He also appreciates the fact that he can sit down with his Dad and watch game footage while getting one-on-one coaching.
Reynolds often receives these words of confidence before games and is always grateful for the help and advice his father provides. For as long as he’s been playing football his Dad always stood by the motto “Dad first, coach second”.
While Matt may feel in need of a confidence boost every once in a while, his father believes that Matt has the natural talent to always play well. Speaking as a member of the coaching staff this time, Coach Reynolds has a lot to say about Matt’s abilities.
“He is a good player,” said Coach Reynolds. “He just has that stuff. Some people have it, and he definitely does. It’s obvious through the way that he plays. He’s just a gifted guy, as good as we’ve ever had. Having said that, there’s still more he can improve on and that’s where Coach Weber comes in.”
Matt has developed great relationships with offensive line coach Mark Weber and head coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Coach Weber’s first year was Reynolds’ first year as well so he feels they were able to go through a lot together and really get to know each other.
“My favorite aspect of Weber’s coaching style is to understand different coaching techniques,” Reynolds said. “He changes his coaching to fit the player and it’s really effective. Not just personally for me or the offensive line, but for everyone on the team. He really knows how to connect well with all the players.”
Coach Weber definitely holds Matt in high esteem as well and recognizes the “stuff” to which Coach Reynolds refers. “He knows the game and is extremely smart. He’s a very athletic guy,” said Coach Weber. “He has finesse but won’t hesitate to maul people. We’re constantly working on things to take him to the next level and I can’t wait to see what he’ll do this year.”
Reynolds also has a strong bond with Coach Mendenhall. Since Mendenhall began his career at BYU in 2003, Reynolds has known him because of his Dad’s position on the staff. He loves the comfortable relationship they share.
“My favorite aspect of Coach Mendenhall’s coaching style is he is very consistent,” said Reynolds. “As a player, I always know what to expect from him, which sets a great example for the team.”
Coaches weren’t the only attraction that drew brother No. 3 to BYU. Though, he did have quite a few colleges to pick from, including Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, California, Nebraska, Northwestern, Utah and Oregon.
“Matt has major gifts,” said Coach Reynolds. “His size, length, quickness and overall feel for the game makes him an extraordinary player.” It’s definitely no surprise that BYU was not the only university that recognized true potential in Matt.
The decision to come to BYU wasn’t a hard one for Reynolds. Growing up a BYU fan, it was his dream. However, he did visit select schools just to get a better feel of his options. Going through the recruiting process with other universities ended up solidifying his decision to come to BYU.
“Other colleges just couldn’t come close to giving me what the overall atmosphere of BYU offered,” Reynolds said. “That’s definitely my favorite part about this school. You’re surrounded by people that have the same values and principles as you.”
This was something especially important to him after having served a two-year mission in Munich, Germany. Reynolds believes that the experience prepared him for life in general.
“It was really hard, but I grew to better understand my own strengths which definitely prepared me for life and football as well,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds always wanted to serve a mission, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. “Sure, I wanted to keep playing football, but a mission was a priority in my life,” he said. “It made it so much easier to know that the coaching staff supported me in this decision like many other players who choose to serve. It’s really a unique situation.”
One of the biggest benefits for Matt in his decision to stay in Utah and play for BYU after his mission was meeting his wife, Brianna Reynolds.
Matt and Brianna met at their home stake single’s ward and were introduced through a mutual friend. It wasn’t too long after that they began dating and eventually fell in love.
Brianna had mentioned to Matt once that she’d love to be proposed to at her home with family nearby. So he came up with the plan to have her sisters wake her up early Thanksgiving morning (because family would be there, but also because it was an easy date to remember), blindfold her and drive her around until he arrived. Next he took Brianna while her sisters went home to set up roses and candles. He then drove her back to the house and walked her over to where everything was set up. He took off the blindfold, got down on one knee and proposed.
Matt and Brianna were married February 2009. When not overwhelmed with school and football, they enjoy four wheeling, jet skiing and boating on Utah Lake, Deer Creek and Bear Lake. They are also excited to be expecting their first child this December.
Reynolds is grateful and very aware of how fortunate he is to have a family and wife that are extremely supportive of his football career. They attend every home game and even a few away games to cheer for him.
“Having that support is very important to me, especially from my wife,” he said. “My schedule is so hectic and busy, but I know I can always rely on her to understand what I’m going through.”
With a big year ahead of him and a baby on the way, Reynolds knows he has to be more focused now than ever before.
Reynolds has been named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, an award given to college football’s best interior lineman. This award is given annually by the Football Writers Association of America and is a highly-respected award. The last BYU player to win was Mohammed Elewonibi in 1989.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting it and I’m very excited,” said Reynolds regarding the nomination. “It’s always nice to have people recognize your talents as a player and want to honor you. I’m definitely going to work hard to be the best candidate.”
Three finalists will be selected in November and then the overall winner will be chosen.
Reynolds has also received other pre-season awards including first-team Preseason All-American by Consensus Draft Services and second-team Preseason All-American in Lindy’s Football Preview.
But it doesn’t stop there. Matt gains the respect and recognition from opposing teams as well.
“Last year after we played Florida State, we had a coach come up to us and tell us that Matt was the best offensive lineman they’d ever seen,” said Coach Reynolds. “We were blown away. It’s quite the compliment”.
Looking to accomplish even more this season, Reynolds has set some important goals for himself.
“As an older guy on the offensive line, I want to be a leader and a constant example that the guys can look to and trust that I won’t let them down”. Like Coach Mendenhall, Reynolds wants to be looked to for his consistency.
“I think that’s what I bring to the table,” Reynolds said. “It’s just a part of my personality that transfers well on the field.”
Being quite large in stature, he is not easily rattled and claims he’s not very emotional either. Reynolds believes that this makes it easy for him to stay focused no matter what the conditions are.
“I hope that this kind of consistency helps team members to see that when things get tough, I’m still bringing my ‘A’ game,” he said.
As for the members of the team, Reynolds included they would like to win the conference championship as well as a bowl game. Most of all, they want to have people look at the way they play football and connect that with the way they live. They want to be a good example to all those who watch on and off the field.
These respectable goals can definitely be reached by the Cougars, especially considering the unique dynamic of the team. “Our team is genuinely a family,” said Reynolds. “Everyone knows that we are all a part of something greater than ourselves and it’s very humbling.”
He added the team realizes how fortunate they are to be able to come together and do what they love and hopefully influence others to do the same. They have complete trust in each other.
“I remember a game where I got beat and yelled to Max Hall to throw the ball because I knew the defender was going to get to him. Max quickly made the pass and fortunately we got a first down,” Reynolds recalled. “That would have never happened if Max didn’t trust I was looking out for him.”
It’s the little moments like this that strengthen their connectivity and the bond that has developed from spending hours everyday together and having to rely on one another.
Hoping to continue to improve in his junior year, Matt’s focus is in the present. However, there’s definitely a lot of talk about him following in the steps of his father, brothers and friends by heading to the professional world of the NFL.
With two older brothers and a father who have spent time in the NFL, Reynolds has high hopes for his future. His father, Lance Sr. played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers, his oldest brother Lance Jr. played a year with the Seattle Seahawks and his other brother Dallas played last season with the Eagles and is currently on the roster.
“If I could be drafted anywhere, I’d want to go to Philadelphia to play with my brother and keep up the tradition,” Reynolds said.
As exciting as that would be for Reynolds, he recognizes that in order to get there, he needs to work his way up, starting with the 2010 football season.
“The next step in his career is to contribute to the football team, apply his skills and improve them,” said Coach Reynolds. “At some time I believe he’ll get a shot at an NFL career, but that’s not the mind set. The mind set is now. He needs to take care of business now and everybody needs to contribute and apply their talents to win.”
With the support of family, the team, and BYU fans, Matt Reynolds is looking to make this his best season of football yet. Reynolds has a lot of offer as a player and is working harder than ever. Not just for himself, but for the team and for the family.
THE REYNOLDS BROTHERS
The Reynolds brothers are quite a hit, literally. They have anchored the BYU offensive line since 2004 when Lance Reynolds Jr. returned to his ‘A’ game after an injury his sophomore year. Since then, the Reynolds boys have been filtering through the program, making BYU’s offensive line a family affair.
#54 LANCE, Jr., 6-2, 303, 2001-2005
Lance Reynolds Jr. started his senior year in 2005 with the newly-hired head coach, Bronco Mendenhall. Reynolds was an essential player in helping turn the program around. Along with helping to rebuild the Cougars, Reynolds was able to see some personal growth and recognition. He started all 12 games for the Cougars that season and was named Offensive Lineman of the Year. This wasn’t a surprise considering he provided run blocking for an offensive unit that generated over 1,700 yards rushing that season and helped produce BYU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. He was also honored with being named second-team All-Mountain West Conference.
This got the ball rolling on the legacy the Reynolds boys would establish in the following years.
#65 DALLAS, 6-5, 320, 2005-2008
Coming into the BYU football program was an easier transition for Dallas because Lance was there to help him out . Together they built up the team and set the standard for all the O-linemen to follow. Dallas was named the team Offensive Rookie of the Year his freshman year and started all 12 games for the Cougars which earned him Freshman All-American by Rivals.com.
“Reynolds has made his mark on the program, while keeping it all in the family,” The Deseret News wrote of Dallas’ freshman year.
During his sophomore year he was part of an offensive line that helped lead the Cougars to a league-best 277 first downs. He recorded over 50 knock-down blocks on the season and did not allow a single sack against a MWC opponent.
In his last year with the Cougars, he was named to the All-MWC First Team. He started all 13 games that season, which means he started all 51 games of his collegiate career, including each position on the offensive line. Dallas was center for an offensive unit that led the conference and ranked No. 6 nationally in passing per game in 2008.
#70 MATT, 6-6, 322, Jr., 2007-2010
Starting his first year in the BYU football program in 2008, Matt Reynolds was able to play his first year with Dallas and continue to strengthen the offensive line.
His performances during the season earned him All-America by the Football Writers Association of America, Rivals.com, CollegeFootballNews.com and Sporting News. He was also a recipient of the Cougar Club’s Male Rookie of the Year award. He started all 13 games at left tackle for an offensive unit that led the conference and was No. 16 in total offense nationally.
Matt continued to improve as a sophomore. With four new starters on the offensive line, he stood strong and eased many doubts about the BYU o-line. He started all 13 games at left tackle and was an imperative part of the offensive line that assisted BYU in leading the nation with a 55.62 third-down conversion percentage on the season. He was named to the All-MWC first team as well as College Football News All-Sophomore First Team.
“Reynolds is the leader of the offensive line and, considering all the new players at the skill positions, he’s also one of the leaders of the offense,” said Jeff Call of the Deseret News.
#78HOUSTON, 6-2, 308, Fr., 2009-2010
Houston Reynolds redshirted last season after serving a two-year mission to Frankfurt, Germany. He was a top recruit his senior year, with Arizona State, Iowa, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington State all wanting him. He now continues the Reynolds brothers custom and Houston is the last Reynolds to come through BYU. There is no doubt that he will make his mark on the team in true Reynolds fashion.
It’s more than obvious this band of brothers has been holding up the o-line fort and will continue to do so this season, pushing for victories and supporting the family.