Utah State Aggies Football quarterback Chuckie Keeton probably doesn't want to talk about what happened last season. In a nutshell, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, or his ACL, during a game that his Aggies were losing to in-state rival BYU.
By that point, Keeton had thrown for almost 1,400 yards, 18 touchdowns and ran for two more scores in just over three games he played. Those numbers were more than enough, obviously, for media and voters to consider Keeton for each and every award then--but the bottom fell out of those well-laid plans.
Utah State lost Keeton for the rest of the season to not only an ACL tear but an MCL tear as well in that BYU game--yet still managed to win the Mountain Division of a league, the Mountain West Conference, of which it was a first-year member.
Then the Aggies were invited to the Poinsettia Bowl where it had the arduous task of trying to contain Heisman trophy finalist, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch. Mission accomplished, and the Aggies won handily in San Diego--shocking the world but not themselves.
Now Keeton has a tough task ahead, because not only does he have to repeat--or even come close to repeating--what the Aggies did last year, he has to do it with an entire conference filled with teams who will be gunning for him and these Aggies.
It's a challenge that nobody would enjoy facing--let alone a team in just its second season in the Mountain West Conference.
Yet this is what it has come to for Utah State and for Keeton, who last year and this year is and will be a Heisman Trophy candidate--as if last season's ACL tear never mattered, right?
Not to the media, who still have Keeton on several watch lists for awards, most notably the Maxwell Award honoring America's college football player of the year since 1937. Keeton was named to that list on Monday, July 7.
Keeton will join other local college football stars such as Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson and BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, and BYU running back Jamaal Williams this year on the Maxwell watch list.
Another watch list, the College Football Performance Awards Quarterback of the Year, also named Keeton to its list as someone it will keep its eye on, on Tuesday, July 8.
More preseason accolades are sure to come for Keeton, who in his senior year will look to not only lift his Utah State Aggies team to victory--he'll also seek to lift a few half-dozen or more individual awards for himself.
Undoubtedly, the Davey O'Brien watch list and the biggest one of them all, the Heisman, are probably just days away from announcing that Keeton is on their lists, too.
After the season Keeton endured last year sitting on the sidelines and wasting away his junior year, anything will seem sweeter to him in 2014.