Dalton Keene Puts Jacksonville On The Map

The town of Jacksonville in central Illinois hasn't produced many BCS-level college football prospects. But there is one going into his senior season this fall ready to prove an exception to the rule. Dalton Keene is a big, strong tight end who has already attended two Illini Junior Days. He hopes to make a positive impression with the Illini football staff.

Dalton Keene has a definite interest in Illinois. He attended a summer camp in 2011, plus Junior Days in February and March. He has enjoyed each experience.

"The camp went very well. I loved the Junior Day. The coaches were straight to the point and definitely got my attention. I was very inspired about the Junior Day visit."

Keene shared his thoughts on his recruiting coach Billy Gonzales.

"Coach Gonzales is the wide receiver coach, and he's the recruiting coordinator for my area. When we were down there, we attended a free Illinois basketball game. At halftime, my dad and I talked to Coach Gonzales, and he seems like a great guy and excellent coach."

Keene says he has no favorite colleges at this point, but he may have a bit of Orange blood coarsing through his veins.

"They are already a good football team, but I believe that they are going to be on the rise soon."

Regardless, he is considering multiple schools, none of whom have offered scholarships yet.

"Illinois, Central Michigan, Illinois State, Vanderbilt, Iowa, Nebraska Tennessee, Michigan State, Alabama and Northern Illinois. I like them all at this point."

The 6'-4", 255 pounder is being recruited as a tight end. He describes the strengths of his game.

Definitely my size because its hard to take down a big guy. Also, I think my speed as a big man probably catches people off guard as well. And I don't drop many passes that come my way."

He wants to improve his endurance and consistency.

"I get tired sometimes, and I don't give my all, which I need to work on. But I try my best a majority of the time."

Keene knows what he wants in a college. He sounds ideal for a team wanting to prove itself on the college football scene.

"First, I look at what type of education I can get. Also, I'd prefer to stay close to home, but I know that may be a stretch. And as far as football goes, I want to be around coaches and players that want to fight, claw and bleed for everything they achieve. That way, no one can say they didn't earn it."

Keene was hoping for a better season for Jacksonville in 2011 but expects big things in 2012.

"We went 5-4 and did pretty well, or at least about average. We didn't get in the playoffs by only a point, so that was hard for our returners next year and even harder for the seniors.

"We can come out prepared and be mentally tougher and more physical. I believe we can win a lot of games, but it won't be easy because football never is.

"We had a playoff berth my sophomore year, so we got a taste of what that was like. That led to one of the biggest upsets in the state, so we know what's on the line in playoff games and that anything can happen. We can use that experience to help us enter next season.

"I'm excited for next year. It's going to be my guys and I as seniors. We plan on coming out and dominating. Now we are the oldest in the school, and we will be playing against our age group and some younger than us.

"But besides that, we bring back tons of experience. I don't know how many other teams can say they have their entire offensive line coming back, and a majority of their defense returning. We have the experience and skills we need to succeed, so I believe we will be very dangerous next year."

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