Eddie was all of 6-5, 285 pounds and looked like a big-time prospect because of his frame and quick feet (5.13 in the 40; 4.7 in the shuttle) and his natural strength (400 bench, 30 reps of 185 pounds). If he can put it all together, mind, body, work ethic, staying injury free, I think he could be an All-Conference player before his career in Provo is over.
Brentt Eads: Tell us about your mission to the Dominican Republic (returned Dec. 4), the highlights and lowlights…
Eddie Keele: The lowlights were being really sad, seeing all the poor people and how the living conditions were so bad. The highlights were that I couldn't have had better feelings from helping people and their humility made me better and helped me grow personally. I may have not grown physically but I sure grew spiritually. I loved it a lot! It was, by far, the best decision I've made in my life.
BE: What's the one thing you missed the most about the U.S. when you were on your mission?
EK: One thing I realized is I missed the small things, stuff like warm showers, walking on carpet, good food, air conditioning, the little things we don't appreciate until we get out of the country. I had to take bucket showers and it'd be so hot all year round. The coldest it got was 85 degrees with always a lot of humidity. You'd always have the fans going, but some places couldn't afford the electricity for fans. Overall, however, I guess I just missed my family the most.
BE: We hear you lost a lot of weight on your mission…
EK: I went to the MTC weighing 297 pounds and not long into my mission I got down to 247. I worked hard towards the end of my mission and got up to 265 pounds the last two or three months. Since I got home I've started lifting and gained 20 pounds already… I'm at 285 now. The coaches want me at 305-310 pounds for my freshman season.
BE: You also had some health problems during your mission, can you detail how that's going?
EK: About five months into it, I had to come home to address some heart problems that were less serious than the doctors expected. I heard a missionary in Jamaica had heart problems--I don't know if he died--but the church wanted to make sure I didn't have the same thing and I didn't. My heart would just take off and start beating fast. It ended up not being a problem that could kill me, just a minor annoyance. It just happens more when I'm out of shape. I've had it since the eighth grade. It was strange, because I had to come home for about five weeks and it was so weird to come back and then it felt weird going back to the mission. It only took a week, though, to get back into it.
BE: Where do you feel you're at in returning to your pre-mission athleticism?
EK: I feel it's coming back fast, I believe in a good three or four months I'll be stronger and faster than before. I've gained 60 pounds on my bench already, it's at 385-390. It was 315 when I came back--when I left I was at 450.
BE: You were recruited by LaVell Edwards and now have come back to a new head coach. How has that been?
EK: It's been good, I loved LaVell, but I'm really excited now because Gary Crowton has the guys working really hard. These guys are in good shape and ready to go. I think we're going to be fine. Coach Crowton is an awesome coach.
BE: Many people pointed to the offensive line as one of the weak spots of this year's team. How did you see it?
EK: I did read up on it and talk to my brother (Ryan, a graduating senior) and injuries made a difference. Ryan played on one ACL all year and of course losing Ben Archibald was key. This year I think we'll have an awesome line with returning guys like Scott Jackson and Quinn Christensen.
BE: What are your goals or plans for the 2003 season? Where are you in terms of years left?
EK: I've already used my redshirt year, so I'll have four straight years to play. My personal goal is to start, that's how I feel, but the coaches have the final say. I feel I can get back into it quick enough, but it depends on how hard I work and get ready.
BE: You could have stayed close to home to play in the Pac 10 for Washington or Oregon… what was it about BYU that made your decision to become a Cougar?
EK: First of all, religion-wise this was the place. Second, I liked the coaching staff here better, I got along with them better. I love this school a lot and I like Provo and Utah a lot. I think, mostly though, it was the coaches, Lance Reynolds who recruited me, Mike Empey and LaVell.
BE: Where would you like to be 10 years from now?
EK: If I could, I'd love to make it to the NFL and play for a few years and get a start on providing for my family. I want to have a secure job--I'd love to be a high school coach because I love kids and would enjoy getting them excited about life.