FROM THE time he stepped on the campus of Southern Methodist University, Terry Keys III knew this home, yet it wasn’t until he saw the athletic weight room that convinced the Dickinson high school defensive back that being a Mustang would feel just as great as being a Gator.
“No question, this is where I want to be for the next four years,” said Keys, who recently committed to play at SMU after completing his senior season with Dickinson. “It was a really beautiful campus and the coaching staff is great. All in all, I felt that SMU was where I wanted to go to school and play football, so it was an easy decision once I was offered.”
For Keys, committing to SMU is the biggest step in what has been a long road he and his father have navigated since a then four-year-old Keys told his dad that he wanted to play college football at the FBS level. The sacrifice and work has led Keys to being an important part of Gators coach John Snelson’s defense, which has become one of the toughest in the Houston area and being named second team all-district 24-6a this past season.
“I reflect on all the days he was putting in his work and making the sacrifices necessary to succeed,” said Keys’ father. “He’s truly put in the work to make this happen and it makes me thrilled to see that paying off.”
Keys chose SMU over Air Force, Army, Navy and Southeastern Louisiana and has made it clear that he is firmly committed to the Mustangs.
“That’s it. I’m done with searching,” he said. “Part of the reason why I made my commitment early is that I wanted to be focused on helping my team win every Friday night. Sometimes, there are players who get caught up in the recruiting process and tend to lose focus. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.”
With recruiting out the way, Keys is more excited about the prospects this season for Dickinson, who is bidding for their fourth straight season of at least ten wins. The Gators are also looking to go beyond last year’s success when they finished 10-2 and lost to North Shore in the 6a, Region III, Division I area round.
“Spring ball was amazing,” he said. “We had great competition each day and it helped grow the bond we have as a team. I think that if we can continue to keep building that bond and focus on the little things, the bigger things will eventually come for us.”
One aspect that Keys feels will help him on his road to SMU is the continued work with teammate Montel Parker, the senior wide receiver who has committed to Texas A&M. “It’s great to work with him because he helps push me every down,” said Keys. “He’s the type of receiver I know I’ll see in college, and I know that this will benefit me.” Keys added that he would like to add 15-20 pounds during the season in order to be ready to play at SMU next fall.
On this Father’s Day weekend, the path that led to a dream realized has made both appreciate things both on and off the field.
“This has made our relationship stronger,” said Keys’ father. “This has been very special to watch this process become a reality.”