By Luis Castilla
Aussie Husky Ben Key used to play rugby in Australia and has now committed to play football for Mississippi State University.
Key is a 19-year-old defensive lineman who wears the number 57 for the East Los Angeles College football team.
He said many schools were interested in him like University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Oregon and Auburn State University, however, he committed to Mississippi State University last week.
Key said he chose Mississippi State University because of their honesty.
“Mississippi State kept it real with me and I want to be coached by people that are honest,” Key said.
Key is the only community college student in California who has been given an offer from the Southeastern Conference, which Key says is known for getting players into the National Football League.
“They get a lot of d-linemen out to the NFL and at the end of the day, I want to get to the NFL,” Key said.
Despite playing in a rugby team in Australia, Key’s rugby coach, Vita Tuinavai asked him if he wanted to try out football.
“I played rugby over there. I just came here to try something new,” Key said.
Coming from a different athletic background, Key found it difficult getting used to the new sport at first.
“Learning the game was a huge learning curve,” Key said.
Key said his football coaches, Robert Godinez and Brian Dixon helped him overcome the challenge of learning a new sport.
“They were hard on me, but they were light on me too if they saw that I was stressing out about the game,” Key said.
“They kept it real with me, kept it honest, and I think that’s why I came this far.”
Even though his coaches didn’t know much about rugby, Key was able to find similarities between the two sports and used that to speed up his learning process.
Key said he could have pursued a career in rugby, but decided not to.
“I’m all for being different, to be honest. All my mates and cousins are all doing rugby, so I was like, ‘I’ll just go try something new,’” Key said.
The different opportunities available in the American football system led Key to pursue football.
“Football is a good sport. There are a lot of opportunities in football like getting a degree and looking after our family,” Key said.
“In rugby, the system is not like this. You just play and if you get injured, you just go back to work in the factory.”
Key’s family is back in Australia, but he is doing everything he can to make them proud.
“I do this for them to look after them in the future. They did a lot for me, so I can’t wait to see what I can do for them,” Key said.