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Collin Keoshian: Back on his horse

Collin Keoshian has found a fit on his third college team

Posted: October 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Former Santa Clarita Christian football star Collin Keoshian has found his stride with Glendale College football. Former Santa Clarita Christian football star Collin Keoshian has found his stride with Glendale College football.
Former Santa Clarita Christian football star Collin Keoshian has found his stride with Glendale College football.

In the United States of America in 2008 and 2009, Collin Keoshian was the biggest fish in the smallest pond of prep football — 8-man football.

He became the first 8-man player to receive a football scholarship to Brigham Young University.

And things didn’t work out there.

And they didn’t work out at College of the Canyons in 2011.

Keoshian says he runs into old friends in the Santa Clarita Valley who ask him about BYU — thinking he’s still there.
His time was so brief at COC that many don’t know he was even involved with the program.

No, Keoshian never flamed out.

His flame, it turns out, is burning bright.

Keoshian is currently the third leading rusher in Southern California at the community college level.

The Glendale College running back has broken two school records this year — he power-cleaned 355 pounds during the summer and in a Sept. 15 game at San Diego Mesa College, he ran the ball 36 times for a record-breaking 326 yards. He scored three times in the game, including on an 88-yard touchdown run.

He admits that the two schools he was at before — BYU and COC — weren’t the right fits for him, though he is thankful for the opportunities he got.

“It was the running back thing,” he says.

Keoshian was recruited to BYU as a linebacker. At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 250 pounds, he was an imposing figure. He also made nearly 600 tackles as a four-year starting linebacker for Santa Clarita Christian between 2006 and 2009.

On the other hand, he rushed for 6,357 yards and scored 102 touchdowns on the ground.

During his freshman year, a season in which he redshirted for BYU, he asked head coach Bronco Mendenhall if he could switch to running back.

Realizing that it wasn’t going to work out, Keoshian asked to be released from his scholarship.

Keoshian’s next stop was home — College of the Canyons.

But despite the Cougars giving him a shot at running back, the team’s spread offense also wasn’t a fit for him.

“I know he’s always wanted to run the ball,” says his former coach at SCCS, Garrick Moss, who still remains close to his former player. “He went (to BYU) as a linebacker and I knew he had great instincts as a tackler. ... But he has this ability to make people miss (as a running back) and when he needs to he can lower the boom. He’s very creative and shifty and instinctive to make the big play on a football field when he needs to.”

Keoshian was quietly frustrated, but never sulked.

He said Mendenhall was kind to him about his departure and College of the Canyons head coach Garett Tujague has nothing but good things to say about him.

But Keoshian has tunnel vision.

And wrong fits clogged the tunnel.

“I want to be successful in everything I do and football is huge to me,” Keoshian says. “My No. 1 goal is to go to the NFL.”

He says it with conviction and doesn’t care that the odds aren’t in his favor or that obstacles have gotten in the way.

Moss agrees that the last two years might have been necessary for a kid who rarely, if ever, faced failure.

Keoshian won two CIF titles at Santa Clarita Christian in 2008 and 2009, was the most popular kid in school, has a gentle likeable nature and was a straight ‘A’ student.

Going from tiny SCCS to big BYU in Provo, Utah was somewhat of a culture shock — though he says he wasn’t homesick.

Not being the guy was also different.

Keoshian says he picked Glendale because it historically features the running back on offense.

But he had a lot to prove being that there was still a learning curve.

“We didn’t know exactly what we were getting,” says Glendale head coach John Rome. “He had a stellar track record in 8-man football, but we believed in him because he was very sincere and his work ethic was beyond reproach.”

There was a problem, though.

Because Keoshian took classes at BYU that were nontransferable to Glendale, he was behind if he wanted to transfer to a four-year school and play college football in 2013.

Keoshian was a sophomore in terms of football eligibility, but a freshman in terms of academics.

He enrolled at Glendale in January and by the end of the year he will earn his associate degree and is on pace to do it with a 4.0 GPA.

In the spring, he took five classes at GCC and drove every Tuesday to UCLA to take a statistics class. He went to summer school. And now he is taking four more classes.

“That’s how bad I want to fulfill my dream of going pro,” Keoshian says of taking the classes to get to a four-year school in 2013.

Through two games with Glendale, Keoshian was very regular.

He had a combined 26 carries for 77 yards with one touchdown and a lost fumble. He also suffered a slight concussion in a practice.

Then he broke out Sept. 15.

“What we were calling was working, and we decided it would be in our best interest for the game to keep calling those same plays,” Rome says. “It was a combination of a very, very good understanding of the offense by him, very good reads. It was a very good mix. It was something that we felt, ‘Let’s keep riding this horse ’til it dropped.’”

And the horse hasn’t stopped.

He followed the 326-yard performance with 111 yards on Sept. 22, 186 Sept. 29 and 93 on Oct. 13.

In his first six games, he rushed for 793 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 12 passes for 95 yards.

He now has scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan, Illinois State and Utah State.

“I don’t see a ceiling on his future,” Rome says. “I hope coaches don’t see him and stereotype him as just a big back.

He can do just about anything on the football field and he proved it. This is something he wanted to prove to himself — more than garner accolades or success, this is a mission. He feels a need to prove he can play this position.”

Keoshian’s track record is unusual — 8-man football, three colleges in three years and a return to success.

He believes he can play running back at the next level and the level beyond.

And there are a lot of people who believe he will succeed.

“Any kid’s a gamble, but the video speaks for itself,” Moss says on if Keoshian’s track record makes him a gamble for four-year schools. “His character, you could get testimony of his character from a million different people who know Collin. It will never be a bad decision to give Collin a spot, whether he pans out, and I know he will, but whether he pans out on the field or not. To have that type of kid in the locker room, in the weight room, on the field as a leader, you cant go wrong.”



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