April 13, 2012
In the final installment of a four-part series that offers an up-close and personal look at the quartet of Pirates competing for the starting quarterback position this spring, staff writer Sam Hickman visits with redshirt freshman Cody Keith. His exchanges with senior Brad Wornick and junior Rio Johnson were posted last week, while sophomore Shane Carden was featured Tuesday.
GREENVILLE, N.C. - After redshirting during his initial season in the program, Cody Keith entered the spring as the youngest competitor in the race for the starting quarterback job. The well-traveled freshman played his junior year of high school ball at South Mecklenburg in Charlotte, where he led his team a 9-6 record and a berth in the 2008 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A state semifinals.
The tall, lanky signal-caller moved to Pasadena, Calif., as he competed as a senior at Maranatha High School. He threw for 2,212 yards and 21 touchdowns while leading the Minutemen to their first undefeated conference record in 23 years. Upon graduation from MHS, Keith made the trek back east to Cheshire Academy, a prep school in Connecticut. There, he led his squad to an 8-1 ledger, amassing over 3,800 passing yards and firing 39 touchdowns before enrolling early at East Carolina in January of 2011.
An ankle injury suffered in the USA Football's 2011 Team USA vs. The World Game in early February during his initial semester at ECU slowed his progress during the fall, but Keith has thrived this spring while playing pain-free for the first time since his arrival.
SH: You're in the midst of your first spring practice period as a competitor for the starting quarterback position. Can you describe what that process has been like thus far?
CK: "We've had a lot of competition so far, not just at quarterback. Competition is always good, especially at QB. Guys are battling for jobs at receiver, running back, everywhere. That's the way to make everybody perform. Everyone knows there is a player behind them breathing down their neck, pushing them to become better."
SH: As the youngest player of the four in competition for the duty, what approach have you taken?
CK: "Being the youngest, I just have to ask a lot of questions. I've met with Coach Riley numerous times and asked him questions about all kinds of different things. Yes, it's more difficult sometimes being the young guy, but you just have to keep grinding. You just have to keep pushing and you'll find a way to remember everything you need to remember."
SH: Could you address some of the strengths in your game as well as areas you need to improve upon?
CK: "That'd be a better question for Coach Riley to answer. He can answer that, I can't. I'm just trying to go out there and do my best to lead the team and throw the ball around some while I'm out there."
SH: What are your expectations and goals for the summer and fall camp as we approach the 2012 campaign?
CK: "For the quarterback competition, it's Coach Riley's call. He'll tell us all where we are going to be. You just have to keep pushing and I know Coach Riley will make the best decision for the team. Whoever is the best option, Coach Riley will choose that guy. I'm confident each of us can do the job and has what it takes to lead this team. It's exciting - we're looking forward to finishing the spring strong tomorrow and having a great year."
Extra Points with Cody Keith
Favorite movie: The Replacements
What's on the iPod: Country, Rap, and my dad recently put me onto some oldies music that I like.
Favorite class you've taken at ECU: Psychology
Favorite moment as member of the Pirate football team: I haven't been here very long, but it's still tough to narrow it down. We'll go with the first scrimmage of the spring since it was a great team effort.
Most embarrassing moment of collegiate career: Nothing too bad, just getting messed with around the locker room. We're always pegging each other with balls of tape.
What you miss most about home: My dogs. We have seven - two mutts, two Labs, a Pomeranian, a Terrier and a German Shorthaired Pointer.
Lincoln's (Riley) Labels: California Kid, Surfer Boy