Offensive linemen are usually thought of as the unsung heroes on the gridiron. However, Oklahoma State made sure that Marcus Keyes' contributions to the team never went unnoticed.
Keyes had an incredible run with the Cowboys, as he finished his career as a two-time All-Big 12 performer. He was also given the Barry Sanders Award, which is awarded to a player for most contribution with the least recognition.
The offensive line for the Cowboys was so dominant in 2019 that Chuba Hubbard led the FBS with 2,094 rushing yards. Mike Gundy's team was top 25 in rushing offense, total offense and red zone offense.
With his pro day at Oklahoma State approaching fairly soon, Marcus Keyes sat down with us to discuss his favorite moments from his collegiate career, preparation for the NFL Draft and more. Let's get this interview started.
The Spun: What was your favorite memory at Oklahoma State?
Marcus Keyes: I’d say my favorite year was 2019. We were rushing the ball really well this year and had such a great running game. Our new offensive line coach Charlie Dickey was pumped up every game and tell us we’d dominate every play and be the best offensive line in the Big 12. It was just so exciting.
The Spun: Chuba Hubbard made a surprising decision return to Oklahoma State. Do you think your former teammate will win the Heisman Trophy this fall?
MK: Oh yeah, I have no doubt he's going to be close. I mean, he wasn't a finalist, but he was like nominated for it. He wasn’t a finalist this year, but he was in the running for it. So yeah, I have to believe he’s going to ball out again next season and win the Heisman Trophy.
The Spun: You were presented the Barry Sanders Award this past season. How’d that feel?
MK: It felt good knowing that all the work I put in didn’t go unnoticed. As offensive linemen, we don’t get much credit. But it’s really great to know that my coaches thought my work was productive on and off the field.
The Spun: You made the All-Big 12 Team this past season but somehow weren’t invited to the Combine. Does that sting for a while or is that something you’re able to use as motivation?
MK: Like you said, I have to use it as motivation. This gives me something to prove. I know I’m a really good player and I know I could do some things other player can do, so that just inspires me, adds fuel to my fire and makes me work harder.
The Spun: Let’s move over to your Pro Day. What’s the most important thing you need to show scouts?
MK: Just how explosive I am, how versatile I am and how well I can bend at my weight. I also want to show how I can move around, change directions and not get too narrow with my feet.
The Spun: From the outside looking in, Mike Gundy seems like one of the most genuine coaches in all of football. Do you have any great stories you can recall about Coach Gundy?
MK: In 2016, I was very busy with school and football. I was still getting used to the whole college life and didn’t know what's going on. One of Coach Gundy’s assistant called me and said, “Coach wants to talk to you about something.” I asked if I was in trouble, but they said he just wanted to talk to me. So, I went to his office and he said, “You know your mom called me, right?” He said she wanted to know how you been because she hadn't heard from me. I meant to call her a couple of days ago, but I was busy with stuff. Coach Gundy was then joking around telling me that she he was worried and yelling at him to come get me. I was like “I already know coach.”
The Spun: Since you’re a versatile offensive lineman, do you study multiple positions? And if so, are there are any players you watch film on?
MK: Yeah, I watch multiple positions. I like looking at center, left guard and right guard and seeing how they move against certain type of defensive fronts and how they work against different types of players. Sometimes I look at offensive tackles too because I know I can play a little bit at that position. The main focus for me though is center and guard. One player I really like watching and studying on film is Quinton Nelson. He's really good on his blocks and how he engages defenders. He also has really good power and speed though, and he really knows how to adjust against defenses. So he’s definitely one player I like to keep an eye on.
The Spun: You were teammates with Mason Rudolph. He was involved in that brawl with Myles Garrett back in November. What were your thoughts on that and how was your relationship with Mason?
MK: Mason was a really close friend of mine. He always used to crack jokes with me, and we would go back and forth. I see he’s doing well for himself in the NFL. As for the whole thing with Myles Garrett, I don’t know what Myles was trying to do, but it was wrong. Mason is nothing like that. He’s a great person and does everything right. Mason is the type of player you want on your team. I know Mason – personally - and he’s not what Myles Garrett is trying to portray him as.
The Spun: What is a coach getting when they select you in the NFL Draft?
MK: They’re getting a hard worker and a person who’s going to do well in everything and give 100 percent. I’m a very tough and smart player that will get their money’s worth. I will do what I have to do to make the team better.
Marcus Keyes is one of the most versatile offensive linemen available in the draft. He spent most of his college career at left guard, but he can play center and right guard. He'll have the chance to impress NFL executives and scouts at his pro day.
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