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Dreams Come True

Written by Tyrone Keys - Friday, 24 October 1980

I was born 21 years ago, the first of three boys to the proud parents, Shelton and Johnnie Ruth Keys. My parents graduated from Alcorn University. So from day one, all I heard about was education and going to college. My mother is a typing teacher; although I am not the best typist in the world, I do type a little. My father, who is retired now, was formerly a Farmer Home Administration Appraiser.

We moved to Jackson from Monticello when I was six years old. Here, I attended Brown Elementary School for three years before switching to Dawson for the last three years. It was at Dawson that I became interested in football. I had played Little League baseball before then, but I really didn't like baseball too much. It was always football that everyone in the neighborhood played. We even had our own football draft. Played everyday, rain, sleet, or snow, we were ready to go. But it wasn't until fifth grade that the schools started having organized football teams. So, I began playing defensive end, a position I am now playing for Mississippi State. After leaving elementary school, I went to Callaway, which at the time was a seventh and eigth grade junior high school. I continued to play football throughout junior high, although I didn't think it was fun because of the practice sessions we had. The coach practiced us as though we were pros. We also had to take a lick with a board if proper assignments were not carried out right. I thought the practices were too harsh for youngsters 12 and 13 years old, and as I look back on it, I still feel the same way. We ran until people couldn't run anymore. Sometimes we would have spectators to sell us some water, which sometimes cost us as much as a dollar, and a dollar back then was a heck of a lot of cash for us. A lot of guys quit, but all in all it made me tough. These harsh practices made me appreciate football a little better later on, but it also made me consider whether I ever wanted to play again. In fact, I didn't even go out for high school football that spring. But that summer I ran and lifted weights and went out for the team in the fall.

The spring before my tenth grade year all the ninth graders that wanted to play high school football had to go out. My mind wasn't settled, so I stayed at home every day that spring avoiding football, thinking that I might play basketball instead, since I had grown so much in height. I ran and lifted weights everyday, so by the time fall practice arrived, I was in pretty good shape and determined to play no matter what circumstances occurred. The coaches at Callaway were damn good coaches. We practiced hard, but it was nothing like junior high. We also received three or four water breaks. I couldn't believe it! Playing football was once again fun. I impressed the coaches so much they decided to start me in the first game. I was only 14 at the time and was playing against guys who were 18, which presented no problem because I was always around older guys. In my whole career at Callaway, we only lost two games.

Some say that we were probably the best team that ever came through the state. I strongly agree. My junior year we didn't lose a single game and won the State Championship.