Bucs hoping Keister will be late bloomer

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Hononegah’s Ben Keister smiles with his mother Carrie and father Mike Wednesday. Keister committed to play football for Beloit College.

ROCKTON — Ben Keister is eager to showcase his skills at the collegiate level. Beloit College is set to receive a 6-foot-3, 270-pound true student-athlete, a rare commodity indeed. 

Keister made official his intent to further his education and football career Wednesday with friends, teammates and family looking on. 

Keister wasn’t able to crack the deep and talented offensive line for the Indians, but Hononegah co-head coach Chad Smith believes he can be a success at the Division III level.

“Ben’s a great person who has a great work ethic in the weight room,” Smith said. “He’s going to be a kid that has a lot of character and is willing to learn multiple positions. He’s a team guy that’s willing to do just about anything to help the team. He’s a smart kid who will be an asset to Beloit College.”

Keister chose Beloit over Carthage and Ripon College and plans to major in microbiology. 

“They all had really nice facilities,” Keister said. “But I just felt more at home in Beloit and just felt like it was the place for me. Being able to be close to home definitely didn’t hurt, but I wouldn’t say it was a huge factor in me choosing Beloit.”

Keister said he believes he can be part of a recruiting class that helps turn the Beloit program around.

“I’ve met all the coaches and I’ve met all the players,” Keister said. “I’ve seen what they can do and I’ve seen what they’ve done. They all look like they’ve made huge strides, and I’m excited to start there.”

Keister, who said he projects to play tackle at the next level, left no doubt regarding the highlight of his time at Hononegah.

“Beating Boylan all four years was the best,” Keister said. “We were undefeated in my freshman and sophomore years. We only lost one game in the regular season my junior year, and even though senior year didn’t turn out that great, we still beat Boylan.”

After beginning his football career in fifth grade, Keister underwent hip surgery and didn’t pick up the sport again until stepping foot on the Hononegah campus as a freshman. 

“I didn’t come in knowing a lot,” Keister said. “All these other kids had been playing since third or fourth grade, and I’d only had one year of experience. I had no idea what was going on. I held my ground against most of them, but I got put on my back a few times as well. I think my coaches and especially my teammates really pushed me hard to succeed. The coaches here really know what they are doing and it shows. It was a great four years for me here.”

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