home sitesearch contact fan about
  Submit/Update Profile  

Search the Network:

Football: Keyes ready for secondary redemption

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • August 20, 2008

After what Derik Keyes went through to get one more year on the field, you better believe he’s ready to make the most of another chance to play football at UL. The senior strong safety gained an additional season of eligibility by completing 80 percent of his degree requirements by the end of the 2007-08 academic year.

While Keyes has struggled with a hamstring injury in fall camp, the Lafayette High grad remains determined to help the Ragin’ Cajuns improve on defense after a frustrating 2007 season that ended with a 3-9 record.

"The main thing is everybody doing their job," said Keyes, who sat out as a freshman to become academically eligible. "We talk about that in the meeting room all the time. You might have one guy that’s out of position sometimes. But if you have that one guy out of position in the secondary you can’t have room for error.

"That’s a touchdown."

UL’s opponents found the end zone too often last season. The Cajuns, battling injuries to several starters throughout the year, ranked near the bottom nationally in most defensive categories but did rate 43rd in pass defense.

A healthy Keyes would be a good start for improvement in ’08 for the Cajuns. Keyes recorded 13 of his 18 tackles a season ago in the first four games before being slowed by injuries.

This season, Keyes is expected to start alongside junior Gerren Blount, who plays free safety. Blount tied for the team lead last year with three interceptions and was fifth with 51 tackles – including a team-high nine against Florida Atlantic.

Both of last year’s starting cornerbacks – Jarrett Jones and Kyle Ward – are gone. Sophomore Orkeys Auriene and redshirt freshman Dwight Bentley are fighting for one spot. Auriene started six games and made 20 of his 27 tackles in league play. Bentley enrolled in the spring after sitting out the fall at Dodge City Community College in Kansas and logged six interceptions as a senior at Pahokee High in Florida.

At the other cornerback opening, senior Justin Branden was listed as a starter coming into fall camp, followed by junior Junior Jean and senior Scooter Rogers. Branden had six tackles in 12 games last year. Jean added four stops in five games as a back-up. Rogers started five of the first six games and recorded a tackle in 11 of 12 games last season. He was a second team All-American as a sophomore at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.

In the spring, Hurlie Brown shifted to coaching the secondary after previously working with the cornerbacks, while Tim Rebowe moved from safeties coach to the linebackers. Both coaches will continue those responsibilities in the fall.

On Tuesday, 20 minutes before the scheduled practice time, UL’s sports information office sent an e-mail to media members announcing the Cajun football team would instead hold a "team-building activity" in the afternoon.

The Cajuns are scheduled to end fall camp today with a scrimmage set for 3:30 p.m.

Prospect corner

Julius Warmsley, a senior defensive end at St. Michael in Baton Rouge, said there’s a chance he will end up playing football at UL in 2009.

Just don’t hold your breath for a decision in the near future from the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder. He’s rated a three-star prospect (out of a possible five) by Rivals.com and ranked the nation’s 48th-best weakside defensive end.

"I feel strong about possibly going to their school," said Warmsley, a prep teammate of current Cajun freshman Evan Ruiz. "But I’m going to wait until the end of my senior season to make a decision. I would say they’re in my top five. I’ll visit their campus sometime soon."

Warmsley currently holds offers from UL, Army, Tulane, Southern Illinois, South Alabama and Arkansas State. He is also receiving interest from LSU, Auburn and Tennessee.

According to Warmsley, the Cajuns are recruiting him as a defensive end and possibly at tight end or linebacker.

Warmsley said academics top his list of priorities in picking a school. He also cares about the quality of players on the team and coaching staff.

"I have to like the people," he said. "If I don’t like the people, I won’t like being there."