The Detroit News is counting down the top 15 players on its list of Blue Chip football recruits. Today: No. 13 John Keenoy of East Kentwood.
John Keenoy made the move from tackle to his natural position of center this past fall and led East Kentwood to its first state semifinal appearance since 2002, losing to eventual Division 1 state champion Clarkston.
Now, Keenoy – a three-star recruit – is making the transition to college life, enrolling early at Western Michigan, where he hopes to compete for a starting job for the Broncos' home opener against Michigan State.
Keenoy played for head coach Tony Kimbrough at East Kentwood, the quarterback who led WMU to its last Mid-American Conference championship in 1988. And now, Keenoy will be playing for P.J. Fleck in an effort to help the Broncos win a MAC title or two.
"Our goal was to get to Ford Field to play for a state championship, so we came up short on that, but I feel we really grew as a team as the season went on," said Keenoy, who has a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to major in finance. "We beat Rockford, which we hadn't done in 11 years and we won the OK Red title.
"But the biggest highlight was beating Hudsonville, since they beat us twice the previous year. They had the quarterback everyone was talking about in our area, Mason Opple, and we beat them on our homecoming with a last-minute TD and then we beat them again in the playoffs."
Keenoy, a member of The Detroit News Dream Team, helped East Kentwood average 36.5 points and rush for more than 3,000 yards to finish 12-2. He enjoyed playing center again.
"I played left tackle the previous two years because that's what they needed me to do, and I'll do what's best for the team," said Keenoy, who is 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds. "I always played center when I was younger, so that's my natural position, and it felt good to be back at center again.
"Western graduated starters at center and guard and that's one of the reasons I decided to enroll early -- so I can get a good start in the weight room and hopefully challenge for a starting spot for this season."
Keenoy's college choice was somewhat of a surprise since his father, John, played football at Central Michigan, and his mother, Missy, played basketball for the Chippewas.
"Coach Fleck and his staff did a great job of selling the program and it's a real family atmosphere," Keenoy said. "I love his (Fleck's) ideas for the program and he's such a hard worker. The sky's the limit for that offense."
Jarvion Franklin (2014) and Corey Davis (2013) won the MAC's Freshman Player of the Year award the last two years, with Franklin also earning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award. Franklin rushed for 1,551 yards and 24 TD, and Davis had 78 receptions for 1,408 yards and 15 TD in 2014.
Keenoy also received offers from CMU, Toledo, Ball State, Buffalo and Illinois State. He might have held out for offers from Big Ten schools, but he wanted to be at a place where the coaching staff made him feel wanted right from the start.
"I committed before their spring game in April," Keenoy said. "I wanted to be someone's top choice."
BLUE CHIP COUNTDOWN
No. 13 John Keenoy, East Kentwood (Western Michigan)
No. 14 Cole Chewins, Clarkston (Miami of Ohio)
No. 15 Mike Danna, Warren De La Salle (Central Michigan)