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Oct. 7, 1997

Freshman Kealy Filling Big Shoes

The Arizona State Sun Devils said good bye to one local hero and welcomed another this season.

Ryan Kealy
Ryan Kealy has emerged as the leader of ASU's offense in 1997.

After Jake Plummer made his exit, it was time for a new local hero to shine. Ryan Kealy, a Parade all-American in high school, led St. Mary's High School to the 1995 Division I state championship played at Sun Devil Stadium. Along with his number one target at St. Mary's, Tariq McDonald, Kealy signed a letter of intent to play football at Arizona State. After reconstructive knee surgery, Kealy redshirted last season while watching his predecessor Plummer storm the troops through an undefeated regular season and into the Rose Bowl.

Over the summer Kealy was in a battle with junior Steve Campbell for the almost impossible task of filling the shoes that were left behind by Plummer. For the new quarterback this season, it is going to have to be a different brand name of shoes. The need is not to be the next Jake Plummer, but to be the first Ryan Kealy.

The week before the season opener against New Mexico State, Kealy was given the starting nod. His first pass was a 23-yard strike to Kenny Mitchell. Much like Plummer's first pass as a Sun Devil, it was a completion. For Plummer it was a sign of good things to come. As for Kealy... well, all the Sun Devil faithful can do now is hope.

Just a redshirt freshman playing in his first game, Kealy evaluated his performance. "I don't think I played up to my potential. I came out a litttle shaky. I don't think I showed a lot of poise. I think that I got rattled at times."

Head Coach Bruce Snyder had is own thoughts of how his freshman QB played in his first college game. "He was fine. To play your first college game, you're not going to be perfect, and he wasn't. But he did a nice job preparing himself."

Every quarterback tends to develop a chemistry between himself and a receiver. Lenzie Jackson is the featured receiver of the Sun Devils and Mitchell is the biggest of the receivers, but it might be Kealy's high school mate in Tariq McDonald. Kealy and McDonald connected on a touchdown pass in the season opener and hooked up for scores 22 times their senior high school season.

"It was nice to get (a touchdown pass) to Tariq." said Kealy. "It was just like the old days. He's a go to guy, so I went to him."

If not this year, look for Tom Dillon to say "Kealy to McDonald" in the future that looks bright for both.

Kealy led St. Mary's to a state championship and was an understudy for a quarterback who lead his team to an undefeated regular season and close to a national championship. He has seen and been a part of success. He knows what success looks like and what it takes to get there.

The Sun Devils just might need to wear shades.

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