Bledsoe Of The Berkshires NFL scouts are intrigued by the skills of Williams quarterback Sean Keenan

November 15, 1999

It's a full hour after his team's 42-13 victory over Hamilton
College on Oct. 30, and Williams senior quarterback Sean Keenan,
still in uniform, is reliving one of his proudest athletic
moments. "It was a big game, against one of the best teams in
the country," says Keenan, sitting on the aluminum bleachers at
Williams's now-deserted Weston Field. "I got to compete against
some of the best players in Division III. It was a huge thrill."

Keenan, one of the top small-college quarterbacks in the nation,
is not talking about his performance in that day's rout, in which
he completed 12 of 18 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns
while barely breaking a sweat. Nor is he speaking of his other
feats on the gridiron, which helped lead the Ephs to a 15-game
winning streak that ended last week in a 33-28 loss at Wesleyan.
Instead he's talking about his role as a key reserve on the
Williams basketball team, which advanced to the '98 Division III
Final Four. "My role was to come off the bench and be a defensive
guy," he says. "Just try to slow down the other team's best
player. We finished third in the nation. It was a great
experience."

For Keenan, being sixth man in hoops is every bit as satisfying
as being the Man in football. It's why, coming out of Phillips
Exeter Academy as a highly touted quarterback four years ago, he
passed up a chance to play Division I-AA football in the Ivy
League for the smaller stage of the New England Small College
Athletic Conference. "Some Ivy schools called, but when they
found out I wanted to play basketball as well, they backed off,"
Keenan says. "I love basketball. It was very important to me to
play both."

Williams football coach Dick Farley is glad his school could
oblige. Keenan, a 6'3", 175-pounder from Rutland, Vt., owns
virtually every one of the school's passing records, including
career completions (279), attempts (483), yards (3,988) and
touchdowns (34). Last year he led Williams to an 8-0 record and
was named New England Division II-III offensive player of the
year by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. "He's the best we've
had here in a long time," says Farley, who has an 87-13-3 record
in 13 seasons at Williams. "We've always had kids who performed
well. But Sean has things that are god-given."

Standing tall in the pocket, with 20-20 field vision and a cannon
for a right arm, Keenan is a virtual Bledsoe of the Berkshires.
Against Hamilton he calmly guided his team to three straight
first-half touchdowns, spreading the ball to five receivers,
making checks at the line and once tucking the ball away and
scampering 13 yards for a first down. "At this level he's a
dominant force," says Hamilton coach Steve Frank, whose team
dropped a 21-14 heartbreaker to Williams two years ago when
Keenan, then a sophomore, came off the bench to direct three
straight fourth-quarter scoring drives. "We've had kids in this
league go to the NFL before, but you don't see many quarterbacks
like him."

Scouts from the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins
and two other NFL clubs have trekked to Williamstown, some 135
miles west of Boston, to see Keenan. While it's rare for a
Division III player to make it at the pro level, at least one
scout believes Keenan has the physical tools to merit an
invitation to training camp. "He's got size, good arm strength;
he's extremely accurate; and he moves his team downfield," says
Rams scout Ryan Grigson. "Because of basketball, he plays
football only three months a year. But I like him a lot, better
than some of the [Division I] guys I see on TV on Saturdays."

Keenan is no slouch on the basketball court, either. Although he
has averaged a modest 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in his
three-year career, he is a tenacious defender who's not afraid to
leave a little skin on the hardwood and has been a contributor
for teams that have finished a combined 73-13 with two Final Four
appearances. "We'll ask him to guard guys who are 6'7" or 6'8"
and outweigh him by 30 or 40 pounds," Ephs coach Harry Sheehy
says. "He doesn't mind. He'll just battle and battle, and he'll
never complain."

Keenan, a political science major, says he loves being a role
player in basketball and can't wait for the hoops season to
begin. Even with a possible NFL future at stake, he says he
doesn't regret forgoing the Ivy League for the opportunity to
play two sports. "I've had the chance to do things I might not
have been able to do at a bigger school," Keenan says. "I just
enjoy it a lot. Sometimes I marvel at how well it has all worked
out."

COLOR PHOTO: WINSLOW TOWNSON

"I like him a lot, better than some of the [Division I] guys I
see on TV on Saturdays."

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