If you see Davhon Keys lost in thought, he might be contemplating the best way to get around an opponent's offensive line.
Or the Aledo Bearcats senior linebacker could be thinking about which line will work best in a poem he is writing.
Yes, one of the most fierce defensive high school football players in America loves poetry. He's written over 100 since he started at age 12.
"I write purely for fun and if I'm bored," Keys said. "It's just something I started doing and realized I like, so I've just been doing it ever since. It's very relaxing."
As for what kind of poetry he writes, Keys said, "It all just depends on the day. I like to explore. And if I'm not feeling it, I'll look up a poem and mimic a certain style."
While it might seem a contradiction for a guy who excels at tackling opposing players to have such a sensitive side, it also ironically makes sense. After all, watching Keys utilize his skills on a football field is, in its own way, sort of poetic.
Keys started playing football at age 7. He connected with the sport after trying out a variety, saying, "Football really stuck. I liked the teamwork, competitiveness, and once I realized I was really good at it I loved playing as much as I could."
Once his coaches found out he was good, they also wanted him to play as much as possible. It's a decision that has paid off for the program and for Keys, who has his sights on helping lead the Bearcats to back-to-back state championships and the program's 12th in its history.
In fact, it would be a third for Keys as he moved up to the varsity and played on special teams in the 2020 postseason.
Keys hasn't always played linebacker. In fact, his first year of peewee football he was on the offensive line. Then, at age 8 he was moved to running back, where he played through his time at Aledo Middle School.
It wasn't until his sophomore year of high school that Keys was moved to linebacker, a position that was completely new to him.
"It was odd. I didn't know all the details, but I knew I was an athlete," he said. "After our spring scrimmage (leading into his sophomore year) I realized I could play the position and play it well.
"It was just natural to me, all the small details I was able to pick up on quickly."
Aledo defensive coordinator Brad McCone called Keys “one of the most outstanding young men I have coached in 31 years.”
“We needed a weak side linebacker his sophomore year and the decision was based on his physicality and speed,” McCone explained the move. “His knowledge of our defense is incredible. He is like having a coach on the field.”
Keys said his time playing running back helped him make the transition from someone running the ball to someone trying to stop the guy with the ball.
"Knowing the tendencies of a running back helped me to be a step ahead," he said. "Knowing the design of running plays was a big help."
Keys, an all-state selection at linebacker, still plays running back from time to time. In fact, he scored two crucial touchdowns in a 25-19 victory against Denton Ryan on Oct. 20 to clinch the program's 16th straight district championship.
He's also no stranger to finding the end zone on defense, having scored a touchdown in each of his three varsity seasons. Earlier this season he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 50-35 win over Dallas Parish Episcopal - a game in which he had two interceptions.
He's even scored on special teams, returning a blocked extra point attempt for two points in a 48-45 victory against Denton Guyer in the season's second game.
Keys' next journey will take him to the Southeast Conference as he has received a scholarship offer to play for LSU. In fact, he plans to graduate early from Aledo and start attending classes in Baton Rouge come January.
"Ever since my freshman year my goal was to graduate early. I was ahead on all my classes," he said.
Keys has a 4.0 grade point average and began receiving college credits as early as eighth grade. He plans to major in computer engineering.
"I've always been interested in computers. I love the math part of engineering," he said.
Keys chose LSU after many offers, including last season's national runner-up TCU, perennial powerhouse Alabama - and recently Stanford.
"Stanford is not going to just reach out to anyone," Aledo head coach Robby Jones said. "That shows you how academically strong he is."
About Key's leadership, Jones said, "You want them to do what Davhon is doing because he does it all so well and is a great player to learn from."
Jones believes Keys has the potential to make an immediate impact in the SEC, long renowned as the toughest conference in college football.
"He'll have to go in and compete, but that's nothing new for him," Jones said. "He's fit in. He's not going to be a fish out of water. And showing up in the spring is going to be huge."
Keys’ intelligence also allows him to absorb many details about his position and the game in general. That, McCone said, enhances his opportunity to succeed in college.
“His potential at the next level is bright due to his work ethic and knowledge of the game,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about this young man. I enjoy every minute I get to coach him.”
However his senior season with the Bearcats ends, Keys will soon be leaving Aledo for the next chapter in his life. He said he's given that some thought and is taking some great memories with him.
"I'll definitely miss my friends and coaches. We've gone through a lot together," he said. "We've gotten up at the crack of dawn together for practice, worked hard together and had great success together.
"I have made some great friends and memories."
And if he leaves with another state championship, well, there's some poetic justice to that - and it would definitely be something to write about.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here