"I love the football tradition."
Keith McKeller, a product of Fairfield High School in the Birmingham area, played his college ball at Jacksonville State before spending seven seasons in the NFL and playing in four Super Bowls. Vince Marrow, father of Tide signee Mike Marrow, is another former Buffalo Bill.
Now it's Darius McKeller's turn in the spotlight.
"I have expectations coming in," said Darius McKeller, the 6-6, 295 pound offensive lineman. "I don't feel like I have to come in and play right away, and will probably redshirt my first year. Eventually, my goal is to earn playing time by working hard and competing for a starting job."
McKeller is still developing as a football player after Head Football Coach Clint Satterfield plucked him off the JV basketball squad. The Alabama coaches see tremendous upside in McKeller's game.
"Coach Saban told me their plan is to turn me into a great football player," he said. "With Coach (Joe) Pendry's guidance and through hard work, I know Alabama's the right place for me to be able to do that."
Projected at guard, but with tackle ability with his fast footwork and a long wingspan, McKeller was used primarily at right tackle for his run-oriented high school team at Jonesboro.
"My main strength is quickness off the ball. My pass blocking is getting better, my run blocking's getting better. I think I just need to improve more on technique and upper body strength," he explained.
On the off-season, McKeller knows he has to stay in great shape when he reports to camp.
"I'm working out, running, eating right," he commented.
Alabama was the first team to offer McKeller a scholarship. He called Coach Saban to commit shortly after last year's A-Day game, which he attended with his mother.
"I have a good relationship with both Coach Pendry and Coach Smart, especially Coach Smart who I've known ever since the 10th grade. When they offered I knew Alabama was where I wanted to be," said McKeller.
"I love the football tradition, and it's not too far from where I live for my family to come see me play."
McKeller is a good student who reports a 2.8 GPA and was given a hard look by schools with high academic standards like Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, and Stanford before committing to the Crimson Tide.
"I just retook the SAT and I'm waiting on my test score," said McKeller. "I'm not sure yet what I'm going to study at Alabama, but I've been thinking about Business."
McKeller wore jersey No. 59 in high school, but he doesn't care what number he wears for the Tide.
"It doesn't matter to me at all, as long as I'm out there playing," he said.
McKeller was named Georgia All-State and All-Region by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Georgia Sportswriters Association (GSWA).
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