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Dick Harmon: Loyalty: It is in the blood of the Reynolds clan

Published: Thursday, Aug. 18 2011 12:03 a.m. MDT

Senior Offensive Lineman Matt Reynolds signs a helmet during an autograph session at the Cougar Kickoff held on Hawes Field on the campus of Brigham Young University on Tuesday August 16, 2011. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU) Senior Offensive Lineman Matt Reynolds signs a helmet during an autograph session at the Cougar Kickoff held on Hawes Field on the campus of Brigham Young University on Tuesday August 16, 2011. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU)

What is expected of a son of Lance Reynolds?

We've seen Lance and Dallas. We're about to see the last of All-American tackle Matt who decided not to leave BYU early for the NFL and will play his senior season. The youngest, offensive guard Houston, fights for a spot this fall to continue the legacy of his family name in Provo.

Line up Lance Reynolds' sons and each has a unique reflection of his father. The smile, the unique facial features, the big shoulders and thick chest, the way of talking; it’s a remarkable play on a strand or two of solid DNA.

The name Reynolds evolved from the Norman given name Reginald or Regenweald, an alteration of the French Reinold. It means Brave Councilor.

Lance Reynolds is BYU football, the lone standing flesh and blood remnant of the LaVell Edwards regime. Now associate head coach for the Cougars, Reynolds has stood steadfast as BYU has made two head coaching changes since Edwards retired in 2000. A legion of former Cougars have put forth Lance Reynolds' name to be BYU's head coach, but decision makers chose to give the reins to Gary Crowton and Bronco Mendenhall.

Assistant head coach/tight ends coach Lance Reynolds stands with two of his sons Matt, left, and Houston after practice Monday. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Assistant head coach/tight ends coach Lance Reynolds stands with two of his sons Matt, left, and Houston after practice Monday. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

In a decade of changes, Lance Reynolds has stood faithful in his charge to coach at BYU. And he's put sons in BYU uniforms like a Ford assembly line.

Lance Reynolds’ loyalty is legendary and athletes who've been coached by him swear a lifelong love of the man for his character, honor and sincerity.

So, what is expected of a son of Lance Reynolds?

Well, they have all become Eagle Scouts. They have all served honorable LDS missions. None of them has ever quit as a football player, regardless of what has been asked.

His namesake, Lance Jr., was asked to switch from linebacker to center in the twilight of his career and he fed the ball to John Beck, who will start this Friday for the Washington Redskins. Junior made the switch and became very proficient, albeit undersized for a center.

"Lance was my roommate for every game my sophomore and junior years," remembers Beck. "We will meet up with him and his wife whenever we come to Provo. I always felt I had a very reliable person blocking right in front of me. I liked being around Lance because he was very serious on the field but very easygoing and a jokester off the field who made me laugh."

Assistant Head Coach/Tight ends coach Lance Reynolds talks to some of his players during BYU football practice Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Assistant Head Coach/Tight ends coach Lance Reynolds talks to some of his players during BYU football practice Monday, Aug. 15, 2011. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Beck said Lance Jr. was passionate about BYU football and winning games – it mattered deeply.

"BYU is what he grew up around as a coach’s son," Beck said. "He would always shares stories his dad had told him about players or games. It was always cool to hear them from that perspective.

"I trust Lance off the field the same way I trusted him on the field."

The father sees all his sons as good men. He never had any trouble with any of them, although his namesake was a little harder to handle.

"He wasn't bad, just had a little zip in his tailgate," said Lance, the senior. "They have different personalities but they are great kids."

How many fathers can say they've had four sons play major college football? How many fathers can say they were in the team room preparing for games with them?

Lance Reynolds never pushed his sons to play. None picked up the game until sixth grade. When they played as seventh graders, his wife Leslie didn't like it. He never thought any of his sons would grow big in stature because in his own home growing up, he was the anomaly, the only huge guy.

"People have the feeling there was this expectation from a football standpoint," said the father. "But the only thing I ever told them was if you’re going to do football, do it. If you’re not, it's OK. But it was their decision."

Almost daily, NFL scouts appear at BYU practices to see Outland Trophy candidate Matt Reynolds. The star says his father's expectations for him and his brothers were for off-the-field behavior first.

"Really, the expectations he put on us were not physical and never had anything to do with sports," Matt said. "It was you as an individual. He expected nothing but honesty, nothing but integrity. He taught us those disciplines that coaches try to instill in players on the field, but did it off the field, and it translated back onto the field."

Lance Jr. served an LDS mission to Little Rock, Ark. Matt served in his father's mission in Seattle, Wash. The last two sons served as missionaries in Germany; Matt served in Munich and Houston in Frankfurt.

To go on missions and earn Eagle Scout awards were mileposts Lance and Leslie set for their sons, like most LDS parents. The Eagle projects had similar themes. Lance Jr. set out to organize a movement in his neighborhood to tighten down and secure water heaters in case of an earthquake. Matt gathered and donated new and used books for local shelters. Dallas collected toys for nurseries. Houston gathered essential toiletries for kits sent to poverty stricken areas of Africa.

Houston said he was never forced to get with the program, but he felt the pressure of his parents through their expectations and his brothers set an example hard to stray from.

"My father taught me to be true to the beliefs that I have and be loyal to the things I care about, whether it's been friends, family, the church, a belief system or qualities I want to possess,” Houston said.

"My biggest fear has been to disappoint my father,” he said. “Not that he would be mad or come after me, or anything like that; it would be the disappointment. As I've grown up and watched my dad live his life, I realized that if I could say at the end of my life that I've become like him and done a good job, I'd pass my test so to speak . And that is the motivation; that is the expectation we hold ourselves to as a family, that at the end of the day, to say we were like our father was."

Houston said when it came time to decide to serve his church for two years full time, he balked, pulled back, waited. As inquiries continued to come his way, he kept pulling back.

"When the time came for me to serve, I kind of beat around the bush,” he said. “The fact that I pulled back and thought if this was something I wanted to do for myself, shows that there was pressure. I saw all the plaques of all my brothers that went on missions honorably and worked hard and had been successful. At the end of the day I wanted to follow that legacy and be part of it and do something they had done and follow suit.”

To be a son of Lance Reynolds means loyalty.

"Without question, something he demonstrates throughout his life," Houston said. "When it's that gray area or when you aren't sure if sticking up for your friend was the right thing to do, my father is the example of loyalty. He's stayed with BYU because he believes in BYU and what it stands for. There have been some hard times as there will be in anything in life, but he's stuck to it because of his beliefs and his loyalty."

In his playing days, Lance Reynolds was one of the first to make it popular as a BYU football player to serve an LDS mission. A few months later, seven on the squad followed him. Those considered stars who did serve, were a minority.

Any father would want his sons to see the best in him and forgive the flaws. In this regard his sons swear their fealty with pride. They've watched their father endure situations with changes at BYU with loyalty and a dutiful attitude of allegiance to an ideal.

"I see it as legendary," Matt said. "He's had such a long career, three decades with the same team. If you start a list of names of people who have come and gone since he's been here, the friendships and associations he's made are really impressive. His love for the game and his love for the school is surpassed by nobody. He is just totally dedicated to BYU and BYU football."

Reynolds. Steadfastness. Brave Councilor.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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