When Collins head coach Eric Booth saw Chris Keys as a freshman, he had his doubts if Keys would be the type of football player he has turned out to be. Those doubts from the Collins head coach were proven untrue as he helped Keys progress throughout his tenure as a Collins Tiger and succeed to the next level of football as the defensive back signed his letter of intent to play with Indiana today.
“That young man has grown a lot. His first time coming out to the practice field, I didn’t know if he would play. People told me, ‘he can play, he can play’ coach’ but I didn’t know. His ninth-grade year I saw him progress and progress. His tenth-grade year he showed me a bit more. His eleventh-grade year we put him on offense a little bit, off and on, and his twelfth-grade year we did the same thing and so did he. He progressed even on special teams and has done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Booth.
“I’ve been here four years and that young man has all the talent he needs to succeed. You don’t have to have someone to push him to do the right things because he’s a good kid on and off the field. He’s going to have fun up there. You get him on the football field and he is a relaxed young man who does what you ask him to do. He’s just great. He didn’t play his ninth-grade year, but he played a couple of games in his tenth-grade year. His eleventh and twelfth-grade years he stuck out. He did everything I asked him to do. He worked out hard this summer and did his job. His senior year he went to a camp and kind of got hurt. He didn’t play much until around district time. I told him it was district time and he needed to step up and play through the pain, and he did that. He did his job. Those last four or five games he did well. I can’t say anything bad about him. I’m glad he’s going to the Big Ten and doing what he’s got to do,” explained Booth.
Keys explained his decision and why he chose the Hoosiers on National Early Signing Day.
“They have a motto called ‘love each other’ and I felt that they meant that and are changing their program around. I see something special about that. The coaches, they love all of the players and care about them. So, when you have coaches like that it makes it easier for the players to play,” said Keys.
Keys will play defensive back for the Hoosiers and discussed what he expects when he makes the move from Mississippi to Indiana.
“I’m ready for the cold [laughs], it is the same though, really, with the SEC and the Big Ten. You still have good opponents to play against. I’ll be playing corner. I am physical and can cover well, so they can put me on the inside and I can play man coverage,” said Keys.
He also reflected on his time as a Collins Tiger and what it meant to him while reflecting on what he will miss in Mississippi.
“It taught me how to be a better young man and how to handle the game well. I’m going to miss the people and the coaches, really, and good food down here [laughs]. I don’t think it’ll be the same up there as down here.”