At 5'7", Keller Keen isn't likely the first jersey you notice in pregame. However, everything behind the #3 football jersey is a big part of the Paris Eagles' heartbeat. Two years ago, Keen was small and somewhat invisible. He wasn't a star as a sophomore in the first year for both he and Head Coach Tyler Clark. That would all soon change. Keen fills a needed role in the schemes for Clark and the Eagles.
All of the changes came in the offseason, where Keen credits Clark's program for his transformation, both physically and in performance. "This year, we have to wear masks, and it is different," Keen says. "We still do the coach's super-rep program, going without a break to keep our heart rate up. We used to try a lot working out. With this program, you are sore after every workout."
"He works really hard," says Clark. "The weight room is not playtime for him. A lot of kids have experienced change, and he is leading the way." Clark found it easy to talk about Keen, who achieves far beyond the weight room. "Outside of football, he is really special, too. There are few kids at any of my stops that are like him. He gets it done in the classroom, he is always respectful when he talks to you, never casual, and his energy is contagious."
Keen also works over the summer and as he can around his school schedule. He manages work around all of the time put in for his fitness, in the weight room regularly and running ladders and drills three to four times a week. He credits Clark's ladder routine with his improvement in agility on the field. Usually lined up in the slot position, Keen finds himself running passing routes across the middle of the field regularly. "You know you are probably going to get hit, either way, so you have to make sure you run the right route every time," Keen says.
Keller is also a multi-sport athlete. He swims for the Paris swim team and plans to play basketball, baseball and run track his senior year. He came to the senior high program with Clark and has seen the change in the program. "The first year, we had an all-new offense and defense. Last year we got some wins. We showed the potential in the last game against Mansfield. I think everyone saw the improvement we have made so far. We have taken on Coach's FITE motto. (Focus, Intensity, Tough, Effort)."
When looking to his final year in the program, Keen knows the potential to achieve and make a run at the playoffs is within reach. Clark said, "You saw the improvement in Keller from year one to year two. I can't take all the credit for that. A lot of it is just him. He refuses to be taken down. He wills himself to stay on his feet. I think you will see an even bigger jump into his senior season."
Keen is ready and has continued to transform his small frame. He is a ripped 158lbs currently and has speed that is tough to match up against. When asked about motivation from a young age and who he looks up to, he was quick to say it was his dad. "He always told me that "Nothing is stopping you but yourself." That has helped me to keep getting better and stronger along the way."
Keen and the Eagles will venture into different conferences this fall, matching up against many first time opponents. They should project to make a playoff spot this season in only three years under Clark. If they do, look no further than Keller Keen as a big reason for the Eagles' attitude change.