The award was named in honor of War of 1812 hero Commodore Stephen Decatur Jr. and presented on his 237th birthday. It recognizes a young leader in the country who embodies the ideals of honor, courage and commitment set forth by Decatur during the formative years of the United States Navy.
“There’s so much that can be said about what Decatur meant to the Navy and the nation,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. “Stephen Decatur defined us as a maritime nation. He left a legacy for all of us to follow.”
Carter noted that under Reynolds' leadership as the team captain the football team this last semester had a GPA of 3.13, a higher average than the rest of the Brigade of Midshipmen.
“It’s a special team, and he’s a special captain who led them for such a wonderful season,” said Carter.
Reynolds finished his college football career with a 32-13 (.711) record as Navy’s starting quarterback. Under his leadership, Navy won a record 11 games this fall, including the recent Military Bowl against the University of Pittsburgh.
"I'm truly honored to be the inaugural winner of this award,” said Reynolds. “I try every day to learn. There are great leaders all around us, so I try every day to learn something new. I go to a school full of leaders. All of them are probably more qualified than I am for this award, so I am very appreciative."
The Associated Press named Reynolds a Third Team All-American, and he ranked fifth in the recent voting for the Heisman Trophy. He is the first quarterback in the history of the Army-Navy game to go 4-0 against the rival academy, and he helped lead the midshipmen to three Commander-In-Chief trophies.
His 88 career touchdowns and 530 career points are the most in Football Bowl Subdivision history, while his 4,559 career rushing yards are the most in FBS history by a quarterback. He is just the sixth player in FBS history to rush and pass for more than 4,000 yards in a career.
Former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton presented the award on behalf of the White House Historical Association.
“Keenan Reynolds is a winner,” said Dalton. “He is also selfless. He is not being recognized because he is a great athlete. He is being recognized because he's a great leader. Keenan is following in the footsteps of the man whose birthday we celebrate today.”