Detail

Patience Pays Off for Football QB Reid Sinnett

San Diego quarterback Reid Sinnett (7) passes the ball ahead of two UC Davis defenders during a recent USD football game.Fifth-year senior quarterback Reid Sinnett is the starter for USD after waiting behind record-setter Anthony Lawrence. He and the Toreros host Harvard this Saturday at 1 p.m.

San Diego football coach Dale Lindsey was talking about his quarterback, fifth-year senior Reid Sinnett. But before discussing Sinnett's athletic ability, an arm that can heave the football 65 yards and legs that turn potential sacks into scampers for yardage, Lindsey wanted to discuss something else about Sinnett.

His character.
 
Sinnett, you must understand, is USD's four-year overnight success story. He waited four years to start, sitting, not always patiently, behind Anthony Lawrence, who set every major USD passing record. Sinnett waited four years, 48 games and 3,317 plays before finally becoming the Toreros' man behind center.
 
"He's one of the players I admire the most here," said Lindsey. "Because at any point in the last five years he could have pinned rolls on his (butt) and told us to kiss it. He could have left us at any point, knowing Anthony was entrenched at that position.

"He chose to stay, which I think speaks volumes about his character."
 
San Diego faces Harvard at 1 p.m. Saturday inside Torero Stadium. Odds are there won't be a player on either sideline who more relishes playing than Sinnett.

While USD brings an 0-2 record into the game, Sinnett has played well.

The Toreros are averaging 34.5 points, in part because their NFL-sized, 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback from Iowa has thrown for 655 yards and six touchdowns. He's among the nation's leaders in completion percentage (ninth) and passing efficiency (11th).
 
"I think he's played quite well," said Lindsey.
 
To Sinnett, what matters most is he's playing, period. "It feels good. I'm glad I'm still here."
 
At one point, he seriously considered leaving. Sinnett grew up in Johnston, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb. He visited USD in February of his senior year in high school. The temperature was about 30 degrees and sleeting when he left the Midwest.
 
"I remember getting on the plane, wearing a hoodie, coat and jeans," he said.
 
It was T-shirt-and-shorts weather when he touched down in San Diego.
 
"This is a little different," he told himself.
 
But his first year on the USD campus was not as gentle as the weather. He sat behind Lawrence. Initially, Alcalá Park's small campus vibe wasn't to his liking.
 
"I wanted a bigger school," he said.
 
In late fall 2015, his freshman year, Sinnett received his release from the USD coaching staff. He flew to the University of Kansas, talked to the coaching staff and considered transferring. Eventually, he decided to stay.
 
USD has won the Pioneer Football League title every season during Sinnett's stay. Kansas’ four-year record during that time: 6-42.
 
Said Sinnett's father, Kurt, who played and coached basketball at Kansas, "I don't think there's any question he made the right decision."
 
One of the main reasons Sinnett stayed was the relationship he built with former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Tanner Engstrand. The pair talked more than X's and O's. Engstrand would ask about Sinnett's girlfriend, how he was doing in general.
 
"I felt that he genuinely cared about me as a person," said Sinnett.
 
So he stayed. And waited. And waited. In 2016, Sinnett's second year on campus, he took almost every snap during spring football because Lawrence was sidelined while recovering from a broken leg, a recovery that was extended when the leg became infected.
 
But come summer camp, Lawrence again earned the starting job. The Toreros went 10-2 and won an FCS playoff game for the first time in program history. From then on, the starting job was Lawrence's.
 
As he sat earlier this week in the Student Life Pavilion, Sinnett admitted biding his time was not easy.
 
"It was hard," he said. "Every year I came in optimistic. I thought my talents would rise. But I don't think I was consistent enough in practice. I'd show flashes of being better than Anthony and flashes where I was considerably worse."
 
Sinnett had practice at waiting his turn. While he was on the varsity football team at Johnston High as a sophomore and junior, he didn't start until his senior year. Coming off the bench the first game of his junior season, Sinnett completed 6-of-6 passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't play a down the next two weeks.
 
"I had people at the school, even the principal, saying they were excited to watch me play," said Sinnett. "And it didn't happen."
 
His senior year, Sinnett started in football, basketball and baseball.
 
As for his hoops skills, he said, "I wasn't great. I was a set screens, rebounds guy."
 
But as a third baseman/first baseman, he crushed the baseball.
 
"He could square up on balls and just hit line drives," said Johnston High baseball coach Michael Barta, who said Sinnett could have played baseball at a smaller Division I school. "He was such a leader for us. Kids would always go to his house after games, practice. He was a vocal leader. The kids listened to him.
 
"He set a good example. He was clean-cut, came from a good family, was excellent in the classroom (Sinnett will graduate in December with a degree in business finance), would never miss a workout. He always gave it his best."
 
There was interest from the University of Iowa's baseball team, but after standing out his senior year in football, Sinnett was committed to football.
 
He was recruited by Ivy League schools Penn, Yale and Harvard. Penn's offensive coordinator was leaving the school and told Sinnett he should contact Engstrand at USD.
 
Sinnett picked the Toreros because of the program's winning tradition.
 
As good as Lawrence was at USD, in his first start Sinnett accomplished something Lawrence never did. He completed a touchdown pass to himself. A Cal Poly defender deflected a Sinnett pass, Sinnett caught it and sprinted 30 yards down the right side of the field for a touchdown.
 
Of his quarterback's ability to run with the football, Lindsey said, "He's athletic as can be. He's got good speed. He's got a lot of courage."
 
USD wide receiver Michael Bandy, who's on the Walter Payton Award watch list, is roommates with Sinnett, and one of his biggest fans.
 
"Come game days, he's definitely excited," said Bandy.
 
It took Sinnett four years to land the job he wanted. Now that it's his, he thinks the Toreros can go places they've never been before.
 
Asked what would constitute a good season, he said "Win nine games, go to the playoffs, win a game, maybe two, maybe three. Making some noise in the playoffs."

Story courtesy of the USD Athletics website

Photos by Thomas Christensen

Contact:

USD Athletics
(619) 260-4803