Port Allen Pelican Marcus Keyes gave himself the best 18th birthday present he could ask for when he verbally committed to play football for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette this past Monday.
Port Allen Head Coach Guy Blanchard said that he was notified Monday by Keyes that after a lot of praying with his family, Keyes called Ragin’ Cajun Head Coach Mark Hudspeth and confirmed his verbal commitment to play.
Besides prayer, Keyes said that he and his family came to the decision together by doing a lot of talking and making a checklist of all of the schools who had sent him offers (Houston and Louisiana Tech also sent him offers).
Keyes said that ULL had everything he was looking for on his checklist, which included distance from home, graduation rate, playing time, coaching staff, summer school, study hall, nutrition program, and his major, kinesiology.
He added, “I was really drawn to ULL because of their environment … it felt like home.”
Keyes’ mother Denise Smith said, “I feel really happy about my son’s decision (to attend ULL), so I can see my baby play as much as I can.”
The 6’4”, 260 lb. senior was recruited by the Ragin’ Cajuns as a left tackle. He has been a force for the Pelicans since he hit the field as a freshman and has started every game of his high school career, a string that has extended to 34 consecutive starts on both offense and defense. He is a two-time first team all-district player and was named offensive MVP for the Pelicans for the 2013 season.
“He is a gentle giant with a big, soft heart,” Blanchard said. “This is a big day for him.”
Keyes senior year will have him continuing where he left off last season as he works both sides of the field as the Pelicans’ left guard, as well as defensive end.
“Our offense is returning and we only lost three seniors on defense,” Keyes said. “I look forward to seeing us win a lot of games this year and having a really great season.”
For now, Keyes can relax and enjoy the fact that he has made one of the most important decisions of his life on one of the most important days of his life.
Keyes said that he consciously chose his 18th birthday to make his decision to verbally commit to ULL even more profound.
“Birthdays are special days in my family,” Keyes said. “This is a day I will always remember.”
Keyes said he plans to formally commit to play for the Ragin’ Cajuns in February on National Signing Day.