Pretty impressive, eh? Ask Michael Keenan to describe the exact same play, but in his terms and you are likely to get something more along the lines of, "See the ball, see who has the ball and make him wish he didn't".
Michael's approach is one that he's taken since he started playing sports. For many, that's since they could walk, but Michael really didn't get into competitive sports until he hit the 8th grade. It didn't take long however, for him to figure out just what it took to succeed. "Do the work." Michael said. "Whatever you do, you work your butt of at it and always try to get better."
Easier said than done as if that was all it took, there would be markedly more successful players out there today than we are used to seeing. Michael adds to that intensive work ethic the kind of athleticism and talent it takes to run for almost 2,000 yards on offense, scoring 23 times and on defense, totaling 86 including 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles on the year. That's pretty impressive stuff right there, but if you ask Michael how he feels about it, again, he puts it in simple and direct.
"I could have done better."
That really is the sum of Michael as he could have 250 yards rushing in a game and 20 tackles on defense, get a sack to cause a fumble that he takes merrily in for a game-winning score and after it's all said and done, he would probably go on for about fifteen or so minutes on what he didn't do to his own personally lofty expectations.
"You can't be satisfied with how you are doing or what you have done." Michael said. "Next week is another game and if you don't come back with just as much effort if not more, you end up losing."
All-Metro, All-State and the best player in all of Kansas City, none of it means that much to Keenan when it's all said and done. They are notches on the belt, but Michael is more worried about the belt itself. Forget the symbolic engravings, he's going after that nice shiny buckle that holds it all together. "Championships are all that matters." he said. "I would rather have one national title than four straight All-American awards, post-season awards or any of that. I would rather contribute to the team and win than lead the team and lose."
Speaking of national titles, that's what Michael has on his mind right now. Amidst the 4 day a week workout sessions, each lasting around 3 hours, Keenan has been thinking of his future.
From even before he
thought about officially playing for Nebraska, winning it all still danced
around in his head. After his commitment though to one of the elite traditions
in all of college football, he's not just pondering, but focused on just that
goal. It doesn't hurt that the players already at Nebraska left him with the
impression that, that was what they expected as well.
"They don't think about winning one game." Michael said of the current Husker players. "That's not good enough at Nebraska. Really, even to think conference titles is like a step down for them. They think about national titles because every year, that's what they want to get."
"That's how I am. You have to want it all or your never going to get it."
Projected as an outside linebacker, taking his spot on the depth chart that has yet to fill the huge vacancy left by Demorrio Williams, Keenan doesn't look at any possibility as too much or too little for him right now. Again, it's simplicity personified how he looks at the present and the future. "If I want any spot on the depth-chart, I have to earn it." he said. "Only the best start at Nebraska and if you think you can just walk in and take that spot, you are kidding yourself. Wherever you are at when you come out of high school, you have to be bigger, faster, stronger and smarter than that to even think you are getting on the field for them."
That's where Michael plans on being though, of that you can be rest assured. Simplicity is what makes Michael confident of that, because he's positive that there's only one direction to go.
It is simplified thinking or perhaps we should just call it being logical, Michael's mental approach towards everything he does taking the shortest distance between point A and point B. Keenan knows full well that this game isn't about style points. He knows that you don't get extra points for artistic representation. It is what it is and Michael would have it no other way.
"Football is the best team sport there is." he said. "You can't be just one guy out there, because one guy can't win a game. You win together or lose together so it's a great thing when everyone is working so well together you can take it all the way. That's what I play for every time I get on the field."
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619