Right about the time Bruce Banner slips into his alter ego, the Incredible Hulk, the simple phrase - a warning, really - comes to mind: "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
LSU freshman defensive end Arden Key had his Banner-to-Hulk moment this summer when a mind-boggling series of events kept him waiting in NCAA purgatory, barring him from reporting to Baton Rouge for summer classes and training with his future teammates.
What was the big hold-up, you ask, with Key's transcript?
An acronym, or course abbreviation, error. No, seriously.
"The issue was with course labeling over at MLK [Key's original high school in the Atlanta area] that could've been taken care of, but somebody didn't answer the phone all summer when the NCAA was calling them," explained Winston Gordon, head coach at Hapeville Charter Academy, where Key transferred for his senior season. "That got the kid in a situation. He had already satisfied all his requirements, should've been there (in Baton Rouge) this summer taking summer classes."
Key, a four-star prospect and the Peach State's top defensive end prospect in 2015, ended up in limbo, waiting in Atlanta with uncertainty.
"On the transcript that was loaded into the NCAA, it had an acronym on it that caused a red flag. Once you're deemed a non-qualifier, then the NCAA ... That's something that needs to be looked at, too, because the NCAA could've rectified the situation just as quick as MLK not answering the phone," Gordon continued. "So I really was upset with both of them for even taking the kid through that type of situation."
But Key let the nonsense fuel him, according to Gordon, channeling understandably hard feelings into regular, grueling workouts.
"He was upset because he had worked hard and he was ready to go, but everything happens for a reason," said Gordon. "That reasoning gave Arden enough time to focus and get himself together mentally and physically. He's in great shape.
"It really lit a fire. We had a conversation on Monday when he stopped in my office. We were actually in the middle of two-a-days and he came over to see the kids before he left. He told me then. He said, 'Coach, they're in trouble.' I said I believe it. He's just got this look about him and he's that type of kid."
And so Key, who could be pivotal to LSU's pass rush right away, not only showed up on the bayou with a chip on his shoulder. He also arrived up some 25 pounds, near 240 pounds and in much better position to compete for snaps as an every-down end.
"Arden put in the work. He's that type of kid," Gordon remarked of Key's summer. "He and his dad and some of the trainers, I know he worked with Chuck Smith and a couple of NFL guys, kinda retooled some things we taught him. Arden's always been a hard-working kid and always a phenomenal talent, so it doesn't surprise me he showed up (bulked up)."
Check out the rest of Ben Love's interview with Winston Gordon below, originally aired Thursday on "Bumper to Bumper Sports" on 103.7 FM (KLWB) in Lafayette.
Transcript snafu "lit a fire" under Arden Key
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