Tyler Keane has been patiently waiting to be called on.
Now, the junior is the next man up and will make his first career start at quarterback for Coastal Carolina – although it’s not the way he envisioned it happening.
Keane sat behind former quarterback Alex Ross – a 2015 FCS All-American – for two years and was beat out by sophomore Josh Stilley for the starting job to begin this season. But the three quarterbacks in front of him on the depth chart have all went down with injuries, leaving him as the most viable option as the Chanticleers host in-state rival Furman at 6 p.m. Saturday at Brooks Stadium.
“Tyler is ready,” Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia said. “He’s a competitor. He’s done a great job over the years preparing our defense playing quarterback on the Chants squad (scout team). He’s ready. We’re not concerned about Tyler, we’re more concerned about depth.”
As they should be.
First, it was a season-ending shoulder injury to Chance Thrasher – who had already missed all of last year due to the same shoulder – prior to the season opener. Then, Stilley left last week’s 27-26 loss to No. 4 Jacksonville State with a left knee injury and is expected to be out for the season.
Freshman quarterback Avery McCall – a former Dillon High standout – also exited last week’s loss to Jacksonville State with a hand injury and could also be out for the season or an extended period of time.
It all happened so fast, and Keane – who played the entire second half – quickly found himself going up against one of the toughest teams at the FCS level in Jacksonville State. He finished 8-of-15 passing for 118 yards and one touchdown, which was a nine-yard pass to Laquay Brown in the fourth quarter to give the Chants the lead.
I got a lot of response from friends and family throughout the area. A lot of texts and [messages] over Facebook and things like that. So, it’s really exciting. … It was a big deciding factor of why I chose to play here. I like the fact it’s close to home and being able to play in front of a home crowd – basically – is one of the big reasons why I chose to come here.
CCU quarterback Tyler Keane on why he chose to play for the Chanticleers ahead of his first collegiate start
Coastal Carolina didn’t come out victorious, but Keane looked at the positives.
“I felt good about what I did. Jacksonville State has a really good defense with some great athletes, especially up front,” he said. “We had some matchups that we took advantage of, had a good tempo on offense and I think that’s why we were successful, although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted. I definitely think playing against them will give me more confidence throughout the season.”
He still hasn’t started a college game before, but Keane has now seen one of the best FCS defenses, and was also in some big time games at Myrtle Beach High School. He holds school records at Myrtle Beach for most passing yards (520) in a game and is tied with Everett Golson for most touchdowns (eight) in a single contest.
Now – just miles down the road from where he played during his prep career – all eyes will be on Keane this Saturday.
“It’s my first career start, so I’m excited,” he said. “But it wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen. Of course I feel terrible for Josh, but I have to be ready and we’ve got a good team coming in here this Saturday.”
The support Keane received after hearing he would be the starter reminded him of why he chose to play at Coastal Carolina in the first place.
“I got a lot of response from friends and family throughout the area. A lot of texts and [messages] over Facebook and things like that,” he said. “So, it’s really exciting. … It was a big deciding factor of why I chose to play here. I like the fact it’s close to home and being able to play in front of a home crowd – basically – is one of the big reasons why I chose to come here.”
Now that the starting job is his, don’t expect Keane to squander the opportunity he’s been looking forward to for so long.
“While it’s easy to say I was [discouraged], I showed up and went into every practice with the right mindset,” Keane said. “I can take that with me into games going forward. Now I’m prepared for the role and have to step up.”