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Football: Two-minute drill with UL’s Derik Keyes

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

Given the chance to play one more season at UL, Derik Keyes put everything he had into his academic work during the 2007-08 school year.

The end result: One more year on the football team for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Keyes, a vocal strong safety, returns for his senior season after completing 80 percent of his degree requirements before the start of this school year.

The Lafayette High graduate recently talked with The Daily Advertiser about his school work, his left knee and life after football.

Question: What do you love the most about the game of football and why?

Answer: I love the physical contact. As a child I used to play in the country without pads.

Q: That’s a nasty scar on your left knee. How did you get it?

A: During my sophomore year of high school, I tore my ACL, LCL, MCL and meniscus doing the long jump the day before a meet. My foot came out from under me on the board. My leg bent like a rubber band. (After surgery) they told me I would miss the first five games of my junior season, but I came back in the first game and got an interception.

Q: Last season you recorded 18 tackles – including 13 in the first four games of the year. What did you work on improving the most during the offseason?

A: I worked on my one-on-one skills. I didn’t really learn how to back pedal until my senior year of high school. I was always good at tackling, but I needed to work on my one-on-one skills.

Q: You sat out your freshman season to become academically eligible. If you could say anything to young people about the importance of academics, what would it be?

A: The lesson that should be learned is if you’re playing sports you need to take your ACT early and learn about the NCAA Clearinghouse. I waited until my senior year to take my ACT score, and I didn’t get the high score I wanted. That’s what kept the bigger schools off me.

Q: At UL you wear No. 20. Why did you pick that jersey number?

A: In high school I wore No. 9 and always loved No. 9 because of Peter Warrick at Florida State. When I got here the number was retired for Damon Mason. The next thing I looked to was who I liked the most in the NFL. My favorite safeties were Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins, who both wore No. 20.

Q: Your younger brother, Antwain Keyes, recently joined the football team as a walk-on. How special is it to be on the same team as your brother for your final college season?

A: Antwain is here on a track scholarship. His twin, Antonio, has to sit out because he didn’t get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. It means a lot to me because Antwain told me the other day he looks up to me.

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?

A: I like to dance on my own time. Other people probably don’t know that. I want to learn how to mambo, tango and zydeco.

Q: You earned all-district honors at Lafayette High playing cornerback, strong safety and running back. Why did you end up at UL?

A: I was getting recruited by Texas A&M, but a lot of schools backed off of me because I didn’t get my grades in time. I started summer school at Northwestern State and paid for everything out of pocket, but I couldn’t pay for it. I came back in town one weekend, and eventually figured out it would be better for me to come home. I didn’t want to stress my family out.

Q: How did you get through having to sit out as a freshman?

A: I sat out summer school that first year because I still didn’t have a scholarship. I went back home to Mississippi to work with my uncle, who owns a roofing company.

Q: I read that you’re majoring in public relations and business finance. What do you want to do when you’re done playing football?

A: I talked with one of my professors this past semester, and he thought I should go into TV and broadcast because I speak well. I also have some uncles back in Mississippi who own roofing companies. I have one uncle who is a real estate agent, and he wants me to come and help him out. Maybe I can start my own business from there.