Keith Houston is the epitome of "been-there-done-that."
When spring of 2006 rolled around, however, Keith was asked to "try something." With a wide receiver unit decimated by graduation, he was approached to take his 6-3, 215-pound frame out wide to see if there were some possibilities there.
"I was very willing to give it a try. I didn't think I had anything to lose. I was at tight end during the late stages of 2005 and with Robert (Lane), Robert (Hough) and Lawrence (Lilly) being there, my prospects for playing a lot were limited, probably. After spring training, I feel like I have found a home," said Keith. "I didn't really weigh enough for tight end.
"Coach (Matt) Lubick and I hit it off pretty well. I like the position and I'm working hard."
Houston has no regrets that he's changing positions going into his final season.
"I wish I could have been playing wide receiver all along because there is a lot to learn, but on the bright side I have the same opportunity as all the other wide receivers. I'm just going to work hard and see if I can put myself in position to make plays for the team and contribute any way I can," he explained.
Keith said he has a couple of assets at wide receiver that he intends to take advantage of.
"I'm a big wide receiver when I'm lined up against a 5-10 cornerback. My size is a big advantage," he noted. "Also, having played in the secondary, I know what DBs are trying to do when they line up to cover me. I don't think I can be covered on a slant because of my size advantage.
"Also, I think I'm a real good blocker. I had to learn to keep my shoulders square and learn technique, but once Coach Lubick taught that to me, I've improved a lot in that area. Again, size is an advantage in blocking corners and safeties. I love blocking."
Keith isn't the only tall receiver the Rebs have. Carlos Suggs, Keith and Michael Hicks are all in the 6-3 or better range. Houston believes that's another advantage for the "new" receiving corps.
"Bein a big target is a definite advantage. We have the ability to go over smaller DBs and go get the ball," Keith added.
The areas of concern are there too for the Philadelphia (MS) native.
"My 40 time is good, but I was stiff in the hips in spring. I've been doing some yoga this summer to loosen up my hips so I can come out of breaks at full speed," he said. "I can feel the difference. I'm also working on being more consistent catching the ball with my hands. I have good hands, but I want great hands."
Whatever happens with the "experiment of Houston at WR, one thing is already etched in stone - he will be a big part of special teams, as he has been for the previous couple of seasons.
It's a role he relishes.
"It's a thrill to run down the field full speed with the opportunity every time to make a big play. We have a lot of pride on our team in special teams because we have an understanding of how important special teams are. One special teams play can change a game completely," he stated. "If you can't get excited about that, you have no pulse."
Keith likes the look of the young wide receivers now on campus and is doing his best to lead them in the right direction.
"I'm a senior now and have the responsibility of showing them a good work ethic and encouraging them. There's an adjustment for them coming into Division I football, but we have some really good athletes who are eager to learn and contribute early in their careers," he closed.
"I'm particularly impressed with Kendrick Lewis, Shay Hodge and Markeith Summers. All of them are good, but those three have stood out to me at WR."
Houston has taken advantage of his time at Ole Miss in the class room as well. He already has one degree - in Criminal Justice, and will complete another - in African American Studies - in May.
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