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Utah State football: Senior receivers' patience, persistence paying off

Published October 2, 2013 7:01 pm

Aggies' Reynolds, Van Leeuwen waited a long time to break out.
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Logan • Travis Reynolds couldn't call up many off-field memories with his fellow senior receiver, Travis Van Leeuwen.

It's not that they don't spend time together — they do. The "off the field" memories can be difficult to summon, because they don't get off it much.

"Me and him, we're about business," Reynolds said. "We're mostly out here running extra routes, catching the jugs, working on our releases against different coverages. That's all we do."

The two Travises, Nos. 7 and 8, don't take a lot of time off, and that's helped them become not just senior leaders for Utah State's receiving group, but Chuckie Keeton's top targets this year. When Utah State hosts BYU this weekend, they'll be the big-play threats in the passing game.

The duo each has eclipsed their previous season-best yardage marks only five games in, and are averaging a combined 118.6 yards per game receiving. The two have been fast friends since they arrived in Logan, and have waited for breakout seasons together.

"It's a blessing to have the opportunity — it's been a blast," Van Leeuwen said. "When we were younger, we always talked about how we were going to be the guys that controlled the offense and help lead this receiving corps. It's turned out the way we always imagined."

It was soon after he had signed with USU that Reynolds, a 5-foot-11 pass-catcher out of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., got a Facebook message from a stranger from Provo who shared his first name. The 6-foot-3 beanpole from Timpview High shared something else, too: He was going to play receiver at Utah State.

The two hit it off instantly, they said. They never roomed together, but they were always at each other's dorm rooms playing video games or getting food together. Reynolds has even been down to Van Leeuwen's house in Utah County and gotten to know his family. Van Leeuwen offered Reynolds some winter shopping tips and made sure he was getting by during his first winter in Cache Valley.

"It's kind of hard for him with [his family] living in Florida," Van Leeuwen said. "But I definitely know he loves his mom a lot."

The two got on the field fairly regularly as underclassmen, but not as much as they wanted to. Reynolds and Van Leeuwen ultimately played a smaller role than Matt Austin, Chuck Jacobs and other older teammates, which isn't unusual in any program.

But Van Leeuwen acknowledged sometimes he was frustrated. When that happened, Reynolds was the one who helped center him.

"He used to stress a lot sometimes when things weren't going right," Reynolds said. "I went up to him and said, 'Man, you know what? Just be patient, you know what I'm saying? Don't stress it.' "

Both of the seniors stuck it out, and it's paid off for them, and for the Aggies.

After losing its top five receiving targets last season, the Aggies' passing game has thrived, ranking No. 28 in the nation. As much credit as Keeton deserves, the guys who run his throws down are finally getting their praise as well.

"I'm my own worst critic, so I'm hard on them, but these guys have done well," receivers coach Jovon Bouknight said. "They go out every game, and I'm more and more impressed every week."


Twitter: @kylegoon —

Utah State's two Travises

Travis Reynolds, Sr., 5-foot-11, 180 pounds

2013 season • 21 catches, 306 yards, three touchdowns

2010-12 seasons • 37 catches, 344 yards, one touchdown

Travis Van Leeuwen, Sr., 6-3, 195

2013 season • 21 catches, 287 yards, one touchdown

2010-2012 seasons • 43 catches, 528 yards, three touchdowns






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