In eighth grade, Keion Wakefield switched from defense to offense, and the talent he had possessed all along was finally unleashed. Now, the senior Male Bulldog wide receiver is heading to UofL and looks back on that time as a pivotal moment in his football career.Â His father, Ronald Wakefield says, â€œItâ€™s been a blessing just to watch him grow coming from the defensive side to being an explosive offensive player.â€
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Wakefield has been so dynamic throughout his years at Male High School that the buzz began to circulate around the UofL football program. Subsequently, Wakefield made the decision over the summer to commit to UofL where he is expected to play slot receiver and return kicks. The senior says the decision making process was not the easiest, but that Male has certainly prepped him for the next level.
â€œYes it was hard because it is the next chapter in your life. Itâ€™s not the next four years â€“ itâ€™s the next 40. So you have to deal with that decision for the rest of your life. I just felt comfortable with UofL. Male helped me mentally and physically because it is tough and Coach Wolfe preaches it every day. He tries to make practice harder than the games. Thatâ€™s true because every day is basically a game, and when it gets to game day, it makes it easier.â€
Maleâ€™s fhead coach Chris Wolfe played college football with Keionâ€™s father Ronald at Campbellsville University, and the two have been friends for 25 years. Eventually Ronald became a part of the coaching staff at Male.
Keion, who last season had 40 catches, 634 yards and 11 touchdowns is a strong candidate for Mr. Football this year. With his dad as support at home and in practice, he has had true support as his game has evolved.
â€œHe always tells me to be mentally and physically prepared,â€ says Keion. â€œIt is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. He always tells me to go in prepared and ahead of the game. On the field, he doesnâ€™t let me call him â€˜dad.â€™ So really he is another coach and thatâ€™s what he wants me to look at it as, but I know in the back of his mind, the expectation is higher.â€
Keion has been around football almost his entire life. When his dad was a player, he would always bring his son around, giving him the chance to meet players and coaches and getting a feel for the football atmosphere. His dad says, â€œI just always brought both of my sons around. Wherever I coached at, they were always on the sideline. I never forced football on them, but I had a big part in the influence by brining them around and being a part of the guys.â€
When his son finally made the decision to play football himself, Ronald Wakefield began to see his progression.
â€œBy him growing up being around me coaching, he learned young how to break down film, and thatâ€™s all he does now. If I go home now, thatâ€™s what heâ€™ll be doing: watching film. Heâ€™s always trying to get better. Growing up, I used to tell him what he did wrong, but now that his football IQ has gotten better, he now tells me what he did wrong. Thatâ€™s how I know that he has gotten better and has improved.â€
Ronald says he was always supportive of his sonâ€™s college plans no matter where he chose to matriculate to. The two had gone on college visits together â€“ Keion had his notepad taking notes from the schools interested in him, but UofL sparked the most interest.
â€œWe went and talked to James Quick, Coach McGee and Lamar Thomas again,â€ said Ronald. â€œWe came back home and he said thatâ€™s where I want to go. I told him that I am going to support him â€“ doesnâ€™t matter where he goes. Heâ€™s my son and I am going to support him.â€
As the senior finishes out his final year as a Male Bulldog, he has high hopes about winning a state championship and continuing to gain the intangibles his school offers to prepare one for the next chapter in life.
Looking back, Keion has high praise fo r the high school that helped define him as an athlete. He argues, â€œMale helps prepare you for the business aspects of life and just helps you move on with your life outside of sports, but sport is also that other avenue. I always want to come back and give my support to the school because the school has done a lot for me.â€ VT