Hunter Reynolds likes to talk.
He always has. Whether it’s just a normal conversation, or if it’s in front of a thousand people at a Black Lives Matter protest on the Diag, it makes no difference to him.
“I never really had fear of failing or fear of what people will think,” Reynolds, a senior defensive back on the Michigan football team said. “So, I don’t really go into a situation thinking what can go wrong, it’s more so how I can make things go as right as possible. And, I think that mindset really helps me, when I go up in front of people I’m not thinking about what happens if I mess up or if I stutter and freeze.”
It’s that attitude that has helped him find his voice and his platform. A platform that he used to help organize the Black Lives Matter protest in Ann Arbor on Sunday along with Eastern Michigan junior linebacker Tariq Speights. And a voice that he’s finding can be a powerful tool in the fight for societal change.
Reynolds doesn’t take his platform of 1,500 Twitter followers and 2,700 Instagram followers for granted. He plans on using it to put pressure on the NCAA to give student-athletes the rights and the treatment they seek. It’s become an important topic for him in light of conversations regarding the reclamation of athletes’ name, image and likeness.
“It seems just completely unfair to me that a regular student has the ability to sign brand deals and monetize their youtube channel and promote a product,” Reynolds said. “But just because someone is an athlete they are not allowed to. A lot of rules are put in place to make sure that athletes don’t have extra benefits that regular students do have.”
Reynolds wanting to take on the issue that has long been at the center of attention of the collegiate sports world should come as no surprise considering his two role models — Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, who have empowered athletes to use their voices as much as anyone.
“(Kaepernick and James) are two people who were really able to look at the platform they had and fully maximize it to speak out on the issues that they saw,” Reynolds said.
This isn’t new for Reynolds, in fact, he’s always been this way. He’s always been a man who is ready to speak out against injustice.
Reynolds is, after all, the new type of athlete. The athlete that can get their message out to droves of people with just the click of a button.
“While my platform isn’t as big,” Reynolds said. “I recognize that I can reach some people so it's better to reach however many people I can and just try to make the world a better place. I have the confidence to say what needs to be said, and I think that’s what really drives me.”
No matter the fight, from reclaiming student-athletes’ rights to seeking racial justice, Reynolds is going to be ready to speak up and use the most powerful tool at his disposal.