In a day and age in which college football recruits are tracked, rated and over-analyzed by seemingly every detail from a player’s 40-yard dash time to his preference of deodorant, perhaps the most talented among the usual stable of running backs is slipping through the cracks.
Keyshawn Wyatt, a senior at Grapevine Faith is probably the best running back in this area — maybe the state — that no one has heard of.
In Wyatt’s path, school records have gone the way of fallen trees in a spring thunderstorm. Twenty-one new standards in all for Dallas and Fort Worth’s leading rusher, who has 2,298 yards and 31 touchdowns in Faith’s 7-2 start.
To say he has left a footprint is an understatement for a guy who has 5,655 career rushing yards and 86 career touchdowns.
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The stature of this bespectacled young gentlemen with the bright smile grows with each carry.
But it’s his stature that has kept college football recruiters at arm’s length.
Wyatt is 5-foot-5, 172 pounds, considered by many as too small for college football’s top level.
“Some would say I’m pretty small,” said Wyatt, whose team is off this week. “I’ve been small my whole life. You take it with a grain of salt, have a chip on your shoulder, and use it as fuel. It doesn’t really bother me. I’m still going to play the same out there.”
Wyatt has put up otherworldly statistics for recruiters, though some, too, are wary of the competition he’s done it against.
Yet, against Brock, a defending state champion in Class 3A, Faith’s No. 31 zipped around the field for 333 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries. Against Midland Christian, he ran for 354 yards on 45 carries with four touchdowns, and last week against Fort Worth Christian, the TAPPS Division II state champion, Wyatt blistered the Cardinals for 400 yards and six touchdowns on 23 carries.
To date, those three are the best of the lot on Faith’s schedule, and Wyatt has delivered on each of those key dates.
What he lacks in size, his coach and others say, he makes up for in strength (he squats 500 pounds) and speed, a legitimate 4.5 40 guy, Faith coach Kris Hogan said. Wyatt also runs behind three FBS recruits on the offensive line: Luke McCleery, Cooper McCaw and R.J. Reynolds, who admit that Wyatt makes them look as good as they do him.
“The difference between him and kids like him that cannot play at the next level and have success is the acceleration out of a cut,” Hogan said. “A lot of kids in America have great vision and can make people miss initially. The problem is they cannot accelerate.
“Therefore, they are good, little high school players. But when he comes out of a cut, you see what it looks like on Saturday.”
Wyatt reminds Hogan of Darren Sproles and Emmitt Smith. Midland Christian coach Greg McClendon sees a little of Barry Sanders, a guy who can cut on a dime and runs hard and fast.
There are 40 schools who have inquired seriously about Wyatt. He has received one offer, from William Penn, an NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Keyshawn Wyatt has rushed for 5,566 yards and 86 touchdowns in his high school career.
Hogan said most important about Wyatt are the things you can’t measure, particularly the value he brings to Faith as a selfless and loyal teammate and leader who understands the big picture of team goals and will do anything in support of them. Wyatt is also relentless, the first non-negotiable tenant to winning football games. He also has quite a sense of humor, telling one visitor that his hands are like a spider web … he catches everything.
As a senior, Wyatt takes it upon himself to gather a freshman, sophomore and junior to pray before each game. “I wouldn’t know that, but my son happens to be in the group,” said Hogan, whose son Deuce plays quarterback. “He’s been doing that privately.”
I try to be a good teammate. I try to have a good locker room influence, to always try to help the younger guys.
Grapevine Faith running back Keyshawn Wyatt
Wyatt is often pulled from games early. For instance, against Kerens he was pulled after only nine carries, yet not before 196 yards and three touchdowns. In another game, he was taken out after 12 carries and 215 yards and four TDs. While he could be frustrated in not being able to pad his stats, Wyatt instead encourages and coaches his backup, Hogan said.
“I try to be a good teammate,” Wyatt said. “I try to have a good locker room influence, to always try to help the younger guys.”
While football is a priority, it’s faith in God that inspires him. He lives his life, he said, through 1 Corinthians 9: I do all for the sake of the Gospel.
“He has given me these abilities and I’m not going to waste them,” said Wyatt, the last of a brood of brothers and sisters. “I’m going to try to glorify him in everything I do and say.
He also has faith that he will get an opportunity to play college football. It probably won’t be at the FBS level, but his coach and others believe he can not only play at FCS but thrive there.
The intangibles are merely add-ons from everything you can see.
“He’s different than anyone else on the field,” Hogan said. “There are kids getting college offers he’s playing against, and when you see him run right by them, you get a good physical comparison.
“I hope someone gives him a chance. He deserves it.”