Athlete of Week: Patience pays off for CCU’s Keane

ccufoot-13passA good college quarterback has to be smart, have a strong arm and be able to think on their feet, but those aren’t the best qualities that helped Coastal Carolina’s Tyler Keane get where he is today. Keane points to “patience” for putting himself in position to lead the Chanticleers to victory over Furman in his first start since his days at Myrtle Beach High.

“I’ve been in the program for four years with the same coaching staff, basically the same offense, and I had a good teacher (in former CCU three-year starter Alex Ross) to show me the ins and outs of being a starting QB,” said the redshirt junior Keane, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “I learned a lot from him to carry forward. The biggest thing is if you know you’re not going to start, that’s the time to prepare so you will be ready when you get your shot.”

It seems like an eternity since Keane was slinging it around for the Seahawks, where he earned numerous scholarship offers from smaller schools. Keane visited Valparaiso in Indiana and some Division II schools in West Virginia and quickly decided there was no place like home. The beach was in his blood, and he passed up athletic scholarships to walk on for the Chants.

“On both of my college visits it was cold and snowing, and I really wasn’t sure I wanted to go so far away,” recalled Keane, a math major who is attending Coastal on an academic scholarship. “Coastal was growing and this was right after the new coaching staff got here. I talked to (CCU offensive coordinator Pat) Patnode about walking on and everything has worked out.”

But Keane had to bide his time as the scout team quarterback, a thankless job that often requires spending a lot of time on your back in practice, and as the placeholder on PATs and field goals, a role when they only time anyone notices your name is if you screw up. Keane embraced the jobs while also sinking himself into the playbook and preparing if his name was called.

Keane entered the season third on the depth chart, but it didn’t take long for injuries to put him back in the starting saddle. There was no easing into the spot, however, as his big break came on the road against No. 2-ranked Jacksonville with the Chants trailing. Keane led Coastal’s second-half comeback to take the lead before falling one point shy of the upset.

“I was a little nervous at first, but I didn’t have time for that. Being a quarterback means you have to be the guy that is calm under pressure and the guy the offense looks to,” Keane said. ” We didn’t get the win, but the way we were able to be so productive was big confidence builder. I knew if I could play well against the No. 2 team I could do it against anybody.”

Keane backed it up the next week in his first college start, throwing two touchdown passes in Coastal’s 41-21 win over Furman. He experienced a painful first loss as a starter in last week’s wild 59-58 double-overtime defeat to No. 10 Charleston Southern, giving him a pair of painful one-point losses to top 10 teams during his short but strong stint at QB.

Keane has completed 32 of 51 passes for five TDs and only one interception in a 2 1/2-game span as a starter, but more importantly he has gained the experience and confidence to lead the Chants into the future. Just as patience paid off in earning his shot, Keane hopes to stay on the same even keel and make the most of his opportunity for as long as he can.

“That was a tough loss, and we have a bye week so it’s going to sting a little bit longer until we play again,” Keane said of the Charleston Southern defeat. “It’s still in the back of our minds but we can’t dwell on it. We still have seven more games left to play and our goal is to win out and go 10-2. That’s not a bad season, but we have to play our best.”

Spoken like a true starting quarterback.

Photo by Johnny Gasque/CCU Athletics

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