Fort Worth, Texas • ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had him going as the 20th overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, while College Football News listed him as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the 2011 draft. Sports Illustrated's draft experts said he was the 40th best player in the land, a solid second-round prospect.
But BYU's Matt Reynolds made a decision he doesn't regret, returning to BYU for his senior season, a season that will end Friday when the Cougars meet Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl (10 a.m. MST, ESPN).
"I feel like there were some things I needed to do. I feel like I have done what I was supposed to, and I am excited for the next stage," Reynolds said.
No one can say for sure because there is no telling where Reynolds would have gone if he had left his name in last April's NFL Draft, but the general consensus among draft experts is that it is a decision that might have cost the four-year starter millions of dollars.
"Reynolds remains a legitimate NFL prospect, but he has fallen out of consideration for the first round," draft expert Jon Dove wrote recently. "The issue is the more film you watch, the more it appears that Reynolds is a right tackle only. This won't keep him from playing in the NFL, but it hurts his draft stock."
Noted the website NFLmocks.com: "Reynolds is an experienced OL for the BYU Cougars whose draft stock is all over the map."
Reynolds claims to be unaffected by talk that his stock has plummeted, saying he has heard and seen a variety of differing opinions.
"That's not really something I control directly, so I just need to focus on playing the best I can for the bowl game and whatever all-star game I go to, and the combine, and just try to improve as much as I can," he said.
There are indications, however, that the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Reynolds' stock with NFL general managers was never as high as McShay and others believed. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said the NFL reported back last year that Reynolds would likely go in the third or fourth rounds if he left school.
"It is probably still around there, I would think, although I think he is playing at a higher level," Mendenhall said. "So without going through that process this year, it is safer for me to say I think it is still where it was [third/fourth round], even though I think he has [improved]."
A former NFL player himself, BYU tight ends coach Lance Reynolds, Matt's father, says his son believes he made the right decision.
"He made the decision, and after he made the decision, we [have] only been looking forward," Lance Reynolds said. "You can go back and say we shoulda and we coulda, but we are not going there."
What isn't questioned is that Matt Reynolds will leave BYU as one of its all-time greats. The All-American will start in his 52nd game on Friday, matching the school record for starts set by defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen in 2009.
Reynolds said last week that of all his accolades and accomplishments, he is most proud of his consistency and durability, having never missed a game despite injuries to his hands, ankles and shoulders.
"That to me is really important and just shows I was able to play through a whole lot of situations and different injuries and stuff like that," he said.
Whichever round he is drafted in four months from now, Reynolds will leave a legacy not soon forgotten, Mendenhall said.
"Matt is such a good player and also a two-year captain, not by being the most vocal player, but just by his performance, and his presence. The backside of our quarterback, or his blindside, has been protected very well, and I think Matt will have a chance to go on and play," Mendenhall said. "But more importantly he is very bright, he is very capable. He has a beautiful wife and family that he has started. He has success written all over whatever he does."
Armed Forces Bowl
BYU vs. Tulsa Friday, 10 a.m. TV: ESPN