Reynolds CFL debut on June 8
Published 1:01 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023
By Brian Pitts
Chris Reynolds has gone from obscurity (walk-on quarterback after zero Division-I or Division-II offers) to college stardom (he broke every Charlotte passing record) to professional QB.
Reynolds signed a contract with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League on May 3.
After leading the Davie War Eagles to 12 wins in 2016, Reynolds was shunned by all recruiters as far as scholarship offers were concerned. He made UNC Charlotte’s roster as a walk-on, but he was buried on the depth chart. Against all odds, he quickly rose to the starting role, led the 49ers for five years and rewrote the record book.
Calgary started showing interest in Reynolds after the 2021 season.
“They invited me to Vegas in January for a workout,” Reynolds said. “It was me, one other quarterback and four receivers. I threw it really well, they were interested and they asked me what I’m looking to do. I said I wanted to finish out the (NFL) draft process – the undrafted free agent stuff – and then we can go from there. An undrafted free agent deal is something I would want to take for the NFL, but a rookie minicamp … not so much because it’s a tryout thing.”
Reynolds wasn’t picked in the recent NFL Draft. He was hoping he’d get some offers as an undrafted free agent, but nothing developed. He was invited to the Carolina Panthers’ rookie minicamp, but Reynolds declined that opportunity and accepted Calgary’s offer.
“(Carolina) drafted Bryce (Young of Alabama) and they have three other quarterbacks on the roster, including Andy Dalton, Matt Corral and Jacob Eason,” he said. “So it was going to be one of those situations where I would come in for minicamp, help out, take reps off of Bryce Young and then I’d probably be gone – unless something crazy happened with injuries.”
Calgary remained patient as Reynolds held out hope for an NFL opportunity.
“We kept in touch,” he said. “Then after the draft, they reached out and said have you heard anything post-draft? I said no, nothing right now. The following day after I didn’t hear much, when I found out I only had the minicamp invite, we pulled the trigger, they shipped the offer over and we signed and delivered it.”
Signing the one-&-one contract (“I’m signed for one year and it’s a team option for the second year,” he said.) was an incredible moment for Reynolds and his family and friends.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “It really hasn’t hit me yet because I’m already thinking about going up there and competing and earning a job. But when you sit back and think about it, you’re like: ‘Damn, I’m a professional athlete. I was a walk-on at Charlotte and now I’m in a situation where I get paid to play football. Wow, this is my job now. This is awesome.’ I always viewed football in college as my job, but now it’s solidified – this is what I do for work. When I say that, it’s so refreshing. I’m just thankful.”
Reynolds headed to Calgary on May 8. Rookie minicamp began May 10. Training camp kicked off May 13.
There are seven major rules differences between the CFL and the NFL. “I’ve got to learn a whole new game with different rules,” he said. “The field is wider. There’s three downs instead of four. The defensive line has to be a yard off the ball, but apparently the defenses run similar coverages.”
The Stampeders, who were founded in 1945, have churned out 14 straight winning seasons, including a 12-6 record in 2022. They boast eight Grey Cup titles, the most recent in 2018.
They played their first preseason game May 22. Their next preseason game is June 1. The 18-game season begins June 8 and ends Oct. 27. The 5-11, 196-pounder from Mocksville is among five QBs on the Calgary roster.