3 KHHS football players receive college opportunities

Three recent Keystone Heights High School graduates signed letters of intent to play football during a May 22 ceremony.
Tight end Micah Brown, who also played safety, will join former teammate Nate Smith—a 2013 KHHS graduate—at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Ky., while quarterback Blake Valenzuela will attend Wilmington (Ohio) College. Fullback/kicker Michael Carroll, who also played the linebacker-defensive end hybrid position, will join the first-year program at Lakeland’s Southeastern University.
Each player generated interest from more than 20 schools through the Athletes for College recruiting service.
Brown said it was a stressful time, talking to various coaches every day, but it was an experience he also enjoyed.
It was a mixture of feelings at the signing ceremony as well.
“I’m nervous and excited—really excited,” Brown said.
Brown said he believes the small, Christian school will be a good fit for him. Plus, he enjoys the fact he gets to join a friend in Smith.
Keystone head coach Chuck Dickinson said Brown possesses a 6-3, 6-4 frame that could use a little more weight. He said Brown probably weighs approximately 200 pounds now, but could see him putting on 25 to 30 pounds.
As it was, though, Brown did the job he needed to do at tight end.
“Even though he wasn’t real heavy, he came off the ball,” Dickinson said. “We ran quite a bit to his side. He was able to get people moved out of there just because of leverage.”
Brown already catches the ball well, though Dickinson said that’s something he’ll have to continue to work on.
“He’s got above-average hands,” Dickinson said, “but that’s something he can improve on.”
Brown feels good about his chances to contribute.
“I think I’ll get the opportunity to play a lot at this school,” he said.
Carroll seemed almost at a loss for words in describing what it felt like to get a chance to keep playing.
“I don’t know, it’s just mind blowing getting this far,” he said. “It’s crazy to think of.”
It was a hard decision to choose a school, Carroll said. He narrowed his choices to Southeastern and Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala. In the end, Carroll said he liked Southeastern’s commitment to academics and its closer location to home.
As far as the football side of Southeastern, Carroll said he’s not sure where he’ll end up playing, though he does have a preference for lining up in the offensive backfield.
“I’d like to get the ball, but it’s just wherever the coaches need me,” Carroll said.
Dickinson said Carroll is a strong blocker, with an emphasis on “strong.”
“Michael benches 335, 340, and cleans over 300,” Dickinson
3 KHHS football players receive college opportunitiessaid. “From a strength standpoint, he’s already there. He’s just got to fit into their system. It’s a new system in the sense of being a first-year program, so maybe he’ll have a chance to get in and have some early playing time.”
Carroll proved his worth at KHHS as a kicker as well with his ability to kick off into the end zone.
“He was a very big asset to the team,” Dickinson said.
Valenzuela admitted he didn’t like talking during his interview with the Telegraph-Times-Monitor, but he had no trouble putting into words what the day meant to him.
“I’m pretty happy,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go play a sport in college. It’s always been my dream. Now, it’s happening.”
Valenzuela helped lead the Indians to the District 4-4A championship last season. That accomplishment will only help as he attempts to make his mark at the collegiate level.
“It helped me because it showed that anything can happen,” Valenzuela said. “Nobody determined that we would go as far as we did (in 2013). We were supposed to be the underdogs, and we proved everybody wrong.”
Dickinson said Valenzuela was a big part of that district championship by adding another dimension to his game. Valenzuela showed the ability to run the ball and did so successfully in key games, such as a win over district opponent Bradford.
“I think that helped our offense tremendously with him being able to be a run threat,” Dickinson said. “He still was able to throw, but I think that’s part of the game he’ll have to work on a little bit more at the next level.