There’s something to be said about patience, and working towards a position of success. Jamal Reynolds, Aiken, South Carolina native, spent two years grinding for a starting position, and the result were two of the more illustrious seasons for a defensive lineman in Florida State history.
From his recruiting bio:
“Widely regarded as the nation’s top prospect at defensive end...as a senior at Aiken High he recorded 174 tackles (six for loss), two sacks, two caused fumbles, one recovered fumble and one pass break up...has a 405 pound bench press and a 4.5 time in the 40...rated as the nation’s top defensive lineman by SuperPrep and No. 2 national prospect…”
Reynolds spent his freshman year getting experience, appearing in only five games while notching 12 tackles (assisted and unassisted). His sophomore season would be more fruitful, raising his tackle total to 43, along with 4.5 sacks, but he still wasn’t technically a starter.
That would change in 1999, when Reynolds would log 53 total tackles and seven sacks, along with two fumble recoveries (one of which would be a scoop-and-score vs. NC State.) He’d play an essential role for the eventual national champions, especially in the title game, where he served as a key weapon in shutting down Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick, sacking him on three occasions.
In 2000, Reynolds senior season, he’d take another step forward, hovering around the same total tackle numbers (58), but increasing his sack total to 12 and forcing four fumbles. His single-season sack number of 12 is the ninth most in FSU history, and his 23.5 over his career are No. 5 in the Seminoles’ record books.
Though goals of a repeat national championship would fall short in a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma, Reynolds was still a unanimous All-American in 2000, as well as the winner of the Lombardi Award, giving to the best player in the country regardless of position.
He’d go on to be drafted No. 10 in the first round by the Green Bay Packers, but injuries derailed his career, limiting him to just three seasons in the league.
”I was always a believer that things happen for a reason,” Reynolds said in 2011. “After I hurt my knee my rookie season in Green Bay and had surgery, I was never 100%. Then it was my back.
”You can either walk away or run away from the game. I saw it as my time to walk away from the game. I was just 25, but I had too much love for hunting and fishing and other things that I could do with the rest of my life.”
He’d go back to Florida State to earn a degree in sports management, and in 2013, was inducted to the Florida State Hall of Fame.