ARLINGTON, Texas (WOOD) — Less than two years ago, East Kentwood graduate John Keenoy was a quiet freshman for the Broncos. Now the sophomore is the leader of the offensive line for the 13-0 Broncos.
In high school, Keenoy started playing left tackle for East Kentwood.
The decision to move Keenoy from the left side of the line to center for the Falcons was made by his coach Tony Kimbrough, who also happens to be the last WMU quarterback to lead WMU to a Mid-American Conference Championship in 1988.
“I said this kids a center,” said Kimbrough. “He’s smart, he works his butt off, he’s the type of kid we need. He’s a leader. We need that type of kid commanding our offensive line.”
His father, also named John, supported the switch.
“I always thought it was the right position for him,” said John. “I just saw him being able to be in control of his game. To be able to communicate what’s going on. To be able to quickly identify things that are going on and be able to help the guys around him.”
The elder John Keenoy would know, he was a lineman for Michigan State and Central Michigan during his college years.
“My dad coached me from a young age, so I was always going to play line,” said the younger Keenoy, who quickly excelled at the new position. “You get to make the calls, like ‘guy to your left, guy to your right,’ account for what you have to do. You are really the leader upfront. That was an exciting role. That was a new role for me.”
The move paid off. WMU offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca has watched Keenoy grow into a team leader.
“I knew we were getting somebody that was special. First of all, they have to have tremendous talent, but to play at center, you see it even less,” said Ciarrocca.
Keenoy started as a freshman, and has earned the respect and praise from his teammates. He has helped lead a line that has given quarterback Zach Terrell time to throw.
“I can’t say enough about John Keenoy,” said the Bronco’s quarterback. “He’s a tremendous leader for that offensive line, and getting them into position and the right calls. We’ve definitely built a really good chemistry over the past two years.”
Keenoy’s line has also opened up a lot of holes for running backs Jarvion Franklin and Jamauri Bogan.
“He’s going to be an excellent leader in the years to come and he’s probably going to have a shot at the NFL because of the kind of player he is. But he’s special in what he can do and he’s very smart,” said Bogan.
“When he left high school early, he had a few goals in mind but I don’t think he ever thought he’d be playing in the Cotton Bowl,” said Keenoy’s mother Missy.
Keenoy’s father agrees.
“It’s really special to see what he’s been able to do. He’s a special kid.”
As for the player himself, “It’s an amazing journey, and its all about what you set your mind to.”