KEARNEY — Dylan Reifeis started playing quarterback at 7 years old. He never lined up at another offensive position throughout youth and high school football.
He even began his career at the University of Nebraska at Kearney as a quarterback. But midway through his redshirt freshman season, Reifeis realized his chances of being the team’s starting signal caller were slim with multiple players in front of him on the depth chart.
He knew he had the intangibles to make an impact on the field for the Lopers and approached the team’s coaches about a position change.
“I considered myself more of an athlete than a quarterback,” he said. “I knew I could play any position they put me at. I just wanted to do what was best for the team. It was not a hard transition.”
Reifeis converted to receiver and instantly found success. A week after the change, Reifeis hauled in two catches for 16 yards against Central Oklahoma. It was the first game he lined up at his new position.
Now, less than a year later, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound Reifeis is the team’s starting slot receiver. He displayed a glimpse of his potential in the team’s 31-27 victory over Central Oklahoma on Thursday when he tallied his first career receiving touchdown.
“He’s been great at it,” coach Josh Lynn said. “He was a really good quarterback. But he’s such a great athlete, and we felt we needed to get him on the field. With that said, we thought the inside position fit him. He’s done a great job.”
Reifeis finished last season with seven catches for 78 yards in six games. Learning how to block was the biggest adjustment for Reifeis, who never had to worry about that skill playing quarterback.
Although switching positions midseason isn’t ideal, Lynn said Reifeis caught on quickly and made a smooth transition.
“He’s a pretty smart kid,” Lynn said. “The ins and outs of it he caught on pretty quick.”
Reifeis dedicated time in the offseason to adding muscle to his frame and improving his speed and relationship with quarterback Alex McGinnis.
After zero receptions and one target in UNK’s 45-0 victory over Missouri Southern, Reifeis recorded his first reception of the season in the third quarter against Central Oklahoma.
McGinnis connected with Reifeis for a 38-yard touchdown pass that gave UNK a four-point lead. It was Reifeis’ first touchdown at UNK.
It was a gratifying moment for Reifeis, who hopes to continue to improve and provide a spark for the Lopers’ passing game.
“It was unbelievable,” Reifeis said. “The greatest feeling in the world. The ball was in the air and the entire time I was thinking, ‘Don’t drop it, don’t drop it.’ I knew I was home free once I caught it.”