Keenan Savage: Respects the Process, and Studies Hard
By: Michael A. Chase Jr.
Speed, strength, quickness, and leaping ability are all skills that athletes are blessed with to varying degrees. The development of these physical tools gives these athletes a competitive edge on the field. While cultivation of these physical talents also help these athlete’s standout from their competitors as they move through the ranks of their sport. Yet the mental aspect of a sport is still key toward an athlete performing and excelling at a high level. The effort athletes must take to have elite mental skills along with their own physical tools is a challenge. A challenge that separates in many instances the good players from the great players. That is why when doing an interview with football player Keenan Savage recently I could sense he has a respect for the mental side of his sport. Thus he is giving himself a great chance with this mindset to be a great player and person.
Keenan Savage, 25 years old, was born in Kansas City, Missouri. A city where the Kansas City Chiefs football team certainly owns much fan support. Even though Keenan Savage is a Patriot’s fan, along with being a Chiefs fan. As he put it the Patriot fandom was influenced a lot by his dad. Thus football was clearly a part of his environment and ingrained in his mind very early and often in his life.
Keenan Savage officially began his football career around the age of 12 to 13. He started by playing for the 39th Street Giants in a South Suburban League in the inner city. The most interesting thing I learned about his time with this team was he actually played on the team with current NFL player Shane Ray. Keenan Savage started out by playing wide receiver as his first position. As I found out this was mostly because of his speed. As Savage stated,” I was just fats out of the gates because all I did leading into starting football was run.” Savage also described a very interesting story on how he made the team initially. As he said the head coach saw his speed and had him line-up in a one on one drill against his best corner. Then as he told me,” the coach said if I catch the ball on this fly route he would end practice and I would make the team.” Savage continued,” I never had been guarded by someone in full pads before, but I ran the route dove and caught the ball and then practice was over.” So as I found out Keenan Savage certainly had an interesting route onto his first football team.
Then from these early years it was onto the start of his High School football career. Keenan Savage went to Bishop Miege Private School, the same High School NFL player Shane Ray went to. Savage and Ray actually went to this school at the same time and Ray became a part of Savage’s best friend circle. As Keenan said, “I seldom talk to him, but we are friends and have spent time with him from time to time.” Savage throughout his time in High School as well learned to become highly versatile on the football field. He started out by playing running back and started as a freshman on the Varsity team. During his four years he also learned how to play safety and outside-linebacker. Thus he learned how to play all these positions at a high level.
Savage built up memorable moments across his experiences during his time at Miege. There two in particular he remembered vividly that as I found out he cherishes the most. The first as he stated was when his team won the state championship in his junior year. As Savage described, “we went 12-1 that season, and I played a majority on defense.” Savage continued,” no one scored over 14 points on us that year. Plus it was special because the school had not won state in 75 years. Being the first winning class was surreal.” So this was clearly an accomplishment that was special to Mr. Savage because of the mark he helped make in the school’s history. The second memory was from a playoff game his senior year, a moment that as I learned will stick in his highlight reel for a while. The game was against a school rival Blue Valley and as Savage described, “it was a rough game, a real battle in the trenches.” He continued,” the ball was on the opposite 30 yard line with 2 minutes left and a screen played was called. But the play failed so we had to improvise.” Savage said he made himself available on the other side of the field and the quarterback threw him the ball. Savage described,” I caught it and juked 3 defenders and took the ball down to our opponents 2 yard line with 3 seconds on the clock. From there we scored and tied the game.” He said from there they went on to win the game. Certainly a moment that he will never forget at all.
Keenan Savage’s high school career was exciting but we shifted our conversation to his College experience. Which was a time as I found out he developed his game and his values as a person. Savage started out at Hutchinson Community College, but dropped out for a year after the unfortunate passing of his Father his first semester. He then started over at Fort Scott Community College, which was a school part of the Jucco football program. As Savage said,” this school made me into the player I am today.” Continuing,” Nothing is catered to you and you had to earn your keep every single day, because competition levels were crazy.” From there he transferred to Missouri Baptist and played two years there. Though as he said he noticed competition level at the school was different. As he quickly noticed some players were not there for the same reasons he was there. As Savage stated,” competition level was different, and was a little lower.” Saying,” practices were different because the hunger is different. While there it was the first time I lined up during practice and heard guys complain.” Mr. Savage said though he went hard and worked at the same level at Jucco because as he put it,” you want to feel good about something when you put your name on it.” During his time at these two Colleges he continued to build on his versatile nature playing defensive back, outside line-backer, nickel back, and punt returner. All of the positions he not only worked hard on off the field, but worked on in film study as well to learn each position fully.
As for his memorable College moments as he described them I felt the excitement of the moments, while learning about the perseverance he went through in these times as well. The first memory was when he was on the field for a wildcat package in the 2nd quarter of the game for Missouri Baptist College, and on the play broke 2 bones in his hand.
He went on though to finish the game and rest of the season with a broken hand. Yet he still went on that year to lead the conference in tackles, breaking the school record also. Doing all this while having a huge cast on his hand, which really depicted his perseverance and determination to play. As for his other moment he was returning punts one year and they were playing a team on the verge of becoming nationally ranked. As Savage described,” the game came down to a punt return right before half about a minute or so.” Continuing,” I told myself I am taking this to the house.” Then as he went to explain he did saying how he was surrounded by defenders but made them all miss and he got perfect blocking to score right before half. This as he said changed momentum and they won the game. Truly a great moment that he said was also a team effort. So his High school and College careers were full of great moments, achievements, as well as, growth which gotten to the pinnacle of a professional career.
We then finally got to our final topics of our conversation, which were the Beyond Sports Network Combine and his football skills. Beginning with his football skills I asked him about his skills as a defensive back, as well strengths and weaknesses in his game, and his outlook as a player. He stated,” I believe I have an advantage at identifying formations and knowing situational football.” Also stating, “I am good at dissecting plays and reading offenses. Try to have a good mindset of what my opponents try to do.” He also said his speed and quickness as his best physical tools. So Savage is clearly taking the initiative to study and be the best at the mental side of the game as well as use his physical gifts. But as he put it,” everything always has room for improvement in my game as well.”
We then transitioned to speaking on the Beyond Sports Network National Combine he is going to partake in. I asked him first about what he hopes to show at the Combine. He said,” I hope I can show my God given talents. Such as my explosiveness, versatility.” Continuing,” while also showing my competitiveness, as well as, my love and passion for the game.” I then asked about what he believed he could get out of this Combine. He stated, “I can gain a lot of knowledge from this event. Networking is something I can also accomplish. As well as just getting Exposure.” So he seems to have the right mindset going into this process to succeed. Then I finally asked what his message to scouts and GM’s would be to convince them he deserves his shot at a professional career. He stated,” I would say I thankful for chance to be considered.” Continuing,” I would put my talents and work ethic up against anybody. That I have the motivation and drive to be the best player, man, role model, and person on and off the field. And can be the best face for the organization both inside and outside of football.” Concluding,” what can you do for others is what I always ask myself. Who’s life can you change, who you can help. Ultimately I learned High school was about me, College about finding yourself, then the real world it is about helping others and wanting to be remembered.”
Overall Keenan Savage as I learned from my interview with him is a young man with aspirations to reach the next level, and has all the tools to reach them. He clearly has the work ethic both from a physical and mental avenue to be among the elites. Thus he understands it takes both these sides to become the best. He also has a great respect for others as well as what it takes to be a professional person along with athlete. Thus if he keeps the values he has cultivated and continues to work with the same determination on both ends of the sports spectrum he will go far in his career.