BELOIT - Freshman Emiliano "Nano" Reyes has already played four positions for Beloit College's football team this fall.
He may end up playing his fifth on Saturday.
The versatile Reyes has played tailback, H-back, wide receiver and tight end. He may end up adding quarterback to his resume when the Bucs travel to Galesburg, Ill., to play Knox College in their Midwest Conference finale.
"Nano's strength is his versatility," Beloit head coach Ted Soenksen said. "He has lined up as an H-back, an in-line tight end, our single-back tailback and we've split him out as a wide receiver. He basically has learned how to play four different positions in a short amount of time. He blocks very hard and he runs very hard. We're excited to see the growth continue."
The Bucs rotated freshman Alex Alvarez and sophomore Diontia Charles at quarterback in last week's 27-0 loss to Macalester College. Charles suffered a leg injury and is doubtful this week. With Curtis Luther also injured and wildcat option Juan Reyes, Nano's brother, having recently left the team for personal reasons, the next man up could very well be Mr. Versatility.
It's really not a stretch. Nano was a starting quarterback at Turner his sophomore year.
"I was playing linebacker and running back when we had an injury and I played quarterback the rest of the season," Reyes said. "I think I could have been a pretty good one, but Kenny Draeving came along the next year and he had way more potential than I did, being 6-foot-6 with that arm."
So Reyes went back to running the ball and playing linebacker. He earned a spot on the Beloit Daily News All-Area First Team as a utility player as a senior.
"One of the reasons I came to Beloit College was because I thought I had the opportunity to play right away," he said. "It was also close to home and it gave me the opportunity to play with my brother and my family could see me play."
As for shuffling from one spot to another, Reyes has embraced the role.
"I don't like to brag, but I think I can do multiple things," he said. "I love it as long as it's a way to stay on the field."
Reyes has been used more as a blocker than a runner, although he does have a 52-yard TD run to his credit and is averaging 3.5 yards on 50 tries.
His play has been a bright spot on a struggling offense that has had trouble reaching the end zone. As a team, the Bucs (1-8, 1-4 MWC) are averaging less than a touchdown (5.89) per game.
"It's been frustrating because I don't think it is a lack-of-talent issue," Reyes said. "We're able to move down the field, but once we get in the red zone we don't finish. We get a penalty, or we turn it over. We always do something to get in our own way."
Reyes said he believes the team is headed in the right direction.
"Beloit College has to be known for doing things the right way, including the little things," he said. "I think the structure of the team with the new coaching staff will turn things around here. Coach Soenksen was put in a rough position being hired late and before he could do much recruiting. I think he will bring in the right people. We're going to miss our seniors, but we have a good core and we could have a solid team next season that can start a culture of winning here."
Soenksen said Reyes will likely play a large role in that.
"As a freshman he's been able to step up and guide some guys in the right direction," the coach said.
As for Saturday, Reyes expects a better showing than the 45-21 loss they suffered at Knox back on Sept. 28.
"We've gotten better as a team and I know we can beat them," he said. "We should have won last week, but we missed opportunities. We were right there, but we didn't kick the door open. I think everyone will be fired up for this one, ready to play our hearts out for our seniors.
"They've carried themselves well through some hard times. They have a chip on their shoulder every day. When you're 1-8 and you still compete as hard as we do, it just shows how resilient we are as a team."
Mr. Versatility says after the football season is over he may want to try another sport at the college.
"I've already talked to the track coach," he said.
He was a shot put and discus man with the Trojans, but the javelin has caught his interest, too.
• BIG FINISH?: Soenksen said the Bucs are looking forward to their 10th game.
There is a ton of importance in the game. We simply want a second win and to show some improvement. It's a shot at redemption after the first game. We didn't play at a high even level to win that one. There is a lot to play for, for sure."