<strong>LOGAN—</strong>When Utah State and Utah battle on the football field in front of a nationally televised audience Friday, state bragging rights will be on line. However, a couple of familiar foes will also be facing off against each other for Houston area bragging rights.
In a game that will have 99 players from the state of Utah on the roster, there will be plenty of players that battled against each other in high school renewing those rivalries. However, one of those rivalries has been imported from Texas.
USU sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton and Utah sophomore safety Eric Rowe both hail from the Houston area. The pair knew about each other growing up, competed against each other in track, and were both one of <a href=”http://blog.chron.com/prepsports/2010/11/football-touchdown-club-finalists-released/” target=”_blank”>10 finalists</a> for Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards from the <a href=”http://www.touchdownclub.org/10-event-photos.html” target=”_blank”>Houston Touchdown Club</a>. Both made significant impacts as freshman on their teams last year, and both have big expectations in 2012.
“We went to this thing called the Touchdown Club. It’s a big thing in Houston, so I was on the offensive side and he was on the defensive side,” Keeton said. “Just knowing we’re both from the same area – I’d say we’re about 5-10 miles apart – just knowing that we had that type of competitiveness in that area just kind of showed a lot just about where we’re from.”
Texas talent is all-to-often talked about in college football, and there is a reason it is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. As Houston area players are dispersed all across the country, Keeton acknowledged that it was serendipitous that he and Rowe end up so close to each other.
“We don’t know each other personally too well, but my senior year I ran track – I decided to put down the baseball and run track,” <a href=”http://www.utahstateaggies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/keeton_chuckie00.html” target=”_blank”>Keeton</a> said. “Right before we went to our regional track meet, we had a scrimmage track meet against his high school, Klein High School. We ran the 4×100 and he happened to be on my leg. He beat me by a little bit – okay, he beat me by a lot – so I know him from that.”
Rowe also said he remembers Keeton and his competitiveness.
“Chuckie is a competitor, I remember him during track. He’s a good competitor, I remember a couple of his games … he was more of an option type quarterback, so I know he can run. He has good mobility,” <a href=”http://utahutes.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/rowe_eric00.html” target=”_blank”>Rowe</a> said. “We didn’t play Utah State last year, so I didn’t think much of it. But now this year, I’m like yeah, I remember him. It’s going to be fun to play someone from my area, just like back in the day.”
With the game being nationally televised, both Keeton and Rowe said they are excited that friends and family back home will have an opportunity to watch them compete. It also is a great opportunity for the Aggies and the Utes to possibly make a bigger impression in the Houston area.
“Just the fact that we can both represent our area of Houston, it gives us a lot of pride,” Keeton said. “Just knowing that there are other guys out there, it kind of sets sort of a standard or a role model type of thing just for the rest of the kids still at our high school’s and stuff like that.”
<em>Eric Rowe photo provided by University of Utah Athletics</em>