Is the torch being passed at the Bret Cooper Junior All-American Game

Four East Players from the 2017 Game; which one looks like a “little kid” to you?

KPGFootball has some very bad news for Joshuah Keith’s mother. Little boys don’t trot onto the field and position under center for the East All-American Team at the Bret Cooper Junior All-American Classic. While that may be true for the 13 and under game; that damn sure is true for the 15 and under version. We know Joshuah is still her baby, and probably will always be; but when he leads the East up to the line of scrimmage Monday, he better not be a baby out there. We have seen him play, we are confident he won’t be.

There is a tradition attenuate with leading the East team onto the field, and up to the line of scrimmage, at this game. There have been plenty of stars on both rosters, East and West. From Malachi Harrison, Tommy Winton, III, and Cameron Stokes all from Knoxville, Tennessee; to Eric Cisneros from Midland Lee (TX), to Austin Gough and William Long, the first two Kentuckians to play in the game in years; who, through their play and example, opened the door for all the Kentuckians in the game tomorrow. Exactly none of these kids resembled (even remotely) little boys, neither physically nor in any other way, when they played in Dallas.

Tommy Winton, III, No. 24, Knoxville Catholic,
played for the East’s 2018 team

So when KPGFootball was talking to one of the East coaches and he asked us whether we thought Joshuah could play up with the 15s, even though he is 13, we had to seriously think about it. This isn’t a normal middle school game. This game isn’t played at a normal middle school pace.

These are the elite, the best of the best, the biggest, fastest, most explosive, most powerful kids, this age, in the middle school game in America. In states which don’t have a prohibition preventing 8th graders from participating at the varsity, high school level, some of these kids are already varsity, football lettermen, and some, even still, never left the playing field for their high school team as 8th graders just this season. The ones who were prevented from playing up; entered the starting lineup, from their first snap, as 9th graders.

We have seen Joshuah Keith do some amazing things. He started at QB for one of the premier, Division I, middle school football programs in Western Kentucky, as a sixth grader for its varsity (8th) team. He started for them again this year as a 7th grader. So Keith has been playing against 15-year old players since he was 11. Maybe not 15-year olds like he will see tomorrow, but 15-year olds nevertheless. Other than his height, when 11, no one would have ever guessed he wasn’t as old as the other kids.

When the premier talent evaluator in West Virginia, from the prestigious Appalachia Prep Combine, texted me that Keith is good as advertised, always made the right zone read and RPO read. He’s starting on the 15U team…we suppose any surprise we might have expressed would have been, at least somewhat, disingenuous. We know of what Keith is capable. We have seen him play with our own eyes.

We weren’t surprised when Joshuah Keith ran a 4.72 second, 40-yard dash (though only 13) at the combine. We weren’t surprised that he was voted Best QB at Murray State University’s football camp, last summer, 7th through 12th grade. We weren’t surprised he led Christian County Middle School to a 9-1, regular season record this past season. We really won’t be surprised when he draws the start Monday for the East. Our expectations for his play will be high.

However, remember this: the East Quarterback from two years ago, who has asked that his name not appear in the article owing to some draconian rules regarding the impact his having played in the game might cause to his eligibility, has (in two years under center) led his high school team to a 29-1 record and two State Football Championships. He did this all while throwing for over 5,000 yards with 60 thrown TDs. Last year’s starter was Ty Simpson from Martin, Tennessee. Simpson is holding offers to play collegiately from Baylor, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi State, and South Carolina and has just recently been selected the top dual-threat QB in the 2022 class from all across the USA. He was under center for the East just last year, occupying the exact same space we believe Joshuah will take up tomorrow.

So there is a torch being passed here. There is a level of play expected here. There is a pedigree here. This is a big moment for this young QB. Can he handle all of this? Well, to be frank; with the poise we have seen from him since our first article where he was featured, KPGFootball expects he will handle it with the poise and maturity of a 20-something year old. That is exactly what it will take. That is exactly how legends are made. That is exactly what this kid will end up being.

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all the Bret Cooper All-Americans to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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