Trevor Keegan got to do something on Nov. 14 he had not done in almost two years – aggressively hit someone in an opposing football jersey.
It triggered something inside the 2019 Crystal Lake South graduate, now a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at Michigan.
“It was just fun,” Keegan said. “I had a lot of fun playing. It’s different when you’re practicing against and beating up on your own guys. Once you go play against someone else, you realize how much fun football is.”
Keegan (6-foot-7, 327 pounds) was the highest-recruited player ever from the McHenry County area, with about 30 scholarship offers, many of which came from the nation’s top programs. Keegan had offers from all four BCS playoff teams from the 2017 season (Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma). All but Oklahoma made his final list of six.
Keegan got on the field for most of the game on Nov. 14 when the Wolverines (2-4) lost to Wisconsin, 49-11, playing left guard after freshman Zak Zinter went out with an injury.
Keegan did not get in the next week in Michigan’s triple-overtime victory over Rutgers, but played most of the game on Nov. 28 in a 27-17 loss to Penn State.
“It’s been really good. All the hard work I put in the last year-and-a-half, it was nice to see it pay off and get my chance to show what I’ve been doing,” Keegan said. “The season’s going well. It’s not the results we were hoping for, but we’re still working hard and, in the grand scheme of things, we have a lot to build on.”
Because of a breakout of coronavirus among Michigan’s team, its annual rivalry game with Ohio State was canceled. The Wolverines also had their game against canceled along with this weekend’s finale against Iowa.
The Big Ten Conference got a later start on the season than most conferences because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the Big Ten was going to play in the spring, but it reconsidered after other Power Five leagues were playing and played its first games in late October.
With the upheaval from the pandemic, the NCAA is not counting this as a year of eligibility for any athletes. Keegan can play four more years after this if he chooses.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “Just trying to get on the field as soon as possible and keep playing well. That’s the overall goal and to hopefully make it into the (NFL) league. Whenever that time comes.”
Keegan was the first player in South history to start his career on varsity as a freshman. Offensive lineman Dominic Collado, who now is at Miami (Ohio), started as a freshman the next year.
One of the biggest draws to Michigan for Keegan was offensive line coach Ed Warinner. Keegan has added about 25 pounds from his high school playing days.
“Once I got here, I put on a bunch of weight,” Keegan said. “I feel stronger. It’s been awesome (with Warinner). He really dives into the details, which is really important. To have him work with me on hand placement, footwork, correct punching. He’s done a really good job getting me there, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Keegan wanted to get on the field as a true freshman, but the Wolverines had four offensive linemen taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. Andrew Stueber, Andrew Vastardes and Chuck Filiaga all are starting this season as seniors, so there could be spots open on the line unless they all return.
“I want to try to get a starting spot and build on that,” Keegan said. “And continue to work in the weight room. My mobility and balance are better, my legs and upper body have gotten really stronger.”