Utah State football: Aggies' quarterback Chuckie Keeton wants to leave a legacy
He admits he's played with injuries because he wanted his teammates to know they could count on him.
"If anything, I feel more pressure from myself," he said. "It doesn't come from the guys. I feel the pressure. I feel encouragement from the guys. I trust myself more than anybody else. I definitely want to be there for them. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the reins. Especially in my position."
He knows what it's like to watch the team in someone else's hands. He played in 11 games and started eight before an injury in Hawaii ended his season..
"That was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," he said. "I felt that I started to put a stamp on our team, as far as being a guy we can rely on. I kind of got it snatched away from me. It was one of those things where they were just trying to look out for my health. I had a lot of trust in Adam, so that helped. I just want to be somebody that everybody can rely on."
Keeton endured a lengthy battle for the starting job as a junior in high school. While it was at times discouraging and emotionally exhausting, he said it also prepared him for what he faced as a freshman hoping to start for the Aggies.
"It went on forever," said Keeton of fighting to be the starting quarterback for his Cypress Creek High School in Houston, Texas. "It was really strenuous, at least for me. It started in the spring and didn't end until a couple of games before the first game of our junior year."
The worst part was that he thought he'd earned the spot long before coaches gave him the nod. What he learned still serves him well — patience, trust your coaches and never take anything for granted.
"I talked to my dad about it a lot," he said. "It went on forever, and I kind of thought I'd won it more than two days before the game. But it wasn't really up to me ... I just have to keep playing. At least that's the way I look at it."
Andersen said the outgoing, affable young man is extremely competitive, but he also doesn't dwell on mistakes, including losses.
"He bounces back but it hurts him," said Andersen. For example the loss to Wisconsin may have ended on a missed field goal for the Aggies, but the coach said Keeton can rattle off a list of things that would have allowed them to score at other points in the game.
"Like every great competitor, you can't forget it, you have to keep it there in the back of your mind," Andersen said. "But you have to move on. Chuckie is awesome that way. That's why he's so good. He doesn't forget when he's winning; he doesn't forget when he's losing. But he can move on through both of them."
Keeton confirmed his coach's assessment of him, but added that he's experienced the ups and downs of turning a program around before — in high school.
"It's definitely a rollercoaster," he said. "My freshman year, the varsity team won two games out of 10. The next year we went 9-1 in the regular season. That's really how I'm looking at things here. It's fun to see how different it is from where (the program) was."
Keeton's dream is the same as a lot of little boys who run around with footballs long before they can throw them — play in the NFL. But before he chases that dream, he wants an education and a few more moments like the 2010 BYU victory and the 2012 Utah win.
He wants to leave his mark on a storied program, something Andersen said he's already started.
"Chuckie Keeton will be stamped on Utah State football forever, in my opinion," said Andersen. "But I think that will grow and grow and could be something very, very special as he moves forward."
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