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Decision of a lifetime: Myrick bets on himself, gets rewarded with PSU opportunity

Photo from Keegan Myrick Twitter

Lehigh needed an answer. Keegan Myrick needed to make a decision. He knew his decision could blow up in his face. Those around him — parents, friends, everyone really — were telling him to do one thing. But he wanted to do something else.

Whew! Talk about pressure.

“This decision has been the biggest one of my life so far,” Myrick said.

“It could have been the worst decision that I made,” he added.

But … it wasn’t.

Fate, it turned out, was on Keegan’s side.

Seven days later, the Bishop Guilfoyle High School product got the phone call he’d waited for his entire life — from Penn State coach James Franklin. And this time, his choice was clear.

“That decision was one of the easiest ones of my life,” Myrick said. “Other previous ones were the hardest, but that one without a doubt, I wanted to go to Penn State since I was little, and it was the easiest.”

Let’s back up and start from the beginning.

Myrick has been a standout at Bishop Guilfoyle, rushing for nearly 4,000 yards in his career as a running back while also playing defensive back.

The 6-foot, 167-pounder received scholarship offers from FCS programs Lehigh and Saint Francis, so he knew he had some options to go play football football and to get some financial aid for school.

But Myrick always wanted to play for Penn State, even if it meant as a walk-on, which means no extra money to pay for school.

LISTEN: Keegan Myrick tells his story on “Sports Central with Cory Giger” on WRTA in Altoona

 

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was little,” said Myrick, who grew up in Altoona, 45 minutes away from PSU. “I remember watching Penn State games my whole life and going up there for Penn State games.”

Signing day came and went last month, and Myrick still hadn’t signed with a school. He had been talking to Penn State for a while, but nothing had materialized as far as an opportunity to walk on.

Lehigh gave him a deadline. He needed to decide by Feb. 20 — 10 days ago — whether he wanted to sign with the program, or else have his scholarship offer pulled.

“They needed me to sign, like sign a paper,” Myrick said. “A verbal commitment would not be good enough.”

It’s understandable that Lehigh needed a commitment. Those coaches and that program had given Myrick plenty of time to decide, and they needed to either have him commit — or move on.

At that time, mind you, Penn State still had not offered him anything. His only other fall-back option was Saint Francis.

“I was talking to Penn State for two months at that point. It was like steady, nothing serious,” Myrick said.

“Everybody I talked to days before I had to decide about Lehigh, all of them, every single one, told me to take the offer to Lehigh,” he added.

“It was a great opportunity. It was hard to pass up. You never know if Penn State was gonna offer or not.

“My parents were pushing me to Lehigh, (and) some other people I was talking to.”

Two of those people were Bishop Guilfoyle products Evan Chadbourn and Sam McCloskey, both who have played for Lehigh in recent years. They, like everyone else, were telling Myrick to sign with Lehigh.

“Lehigh is a great school, great education,” Myrick said. “Along with getting money, it’s kind of hard to pass that (up).

“But my heart was always with Penn State, so that was my decision.”

Ummm … OK.

Myrick rolled the dice.

He knew it was a gamble.

And as he put it, he decided to bet on himself.

Lo and behold, six days later, his bet paid off big time.

Penn State contacted Myrick on Friday night and offered him an opportunity to be a preferred run-on.

Saturday morning, he got a phone call that woke him up. A phone call from James Franklin.

“It was a crazy experience,” Myrick said, “because you kind of want to be excited that James Franklin is calling you. But you also have to act like you’re supposed to be there, like you belong there. Like you belong on the phone with him.”

They joked around briefly, then Franklin got to the point about the offer.

Myrick decided on the spot to accept.

His lifelong dream had come true.

One week after he turned down the opportunity that everyone else wanted him to take.

When he got off the phone, Myrick admitted that he cried.

His parents cried, too.

“I’m still walking on cloud nine,” Myrick said. “It’s starting to sink in, though. I’ve had a bunch of people congratulate me. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m excited to be up there.

“To be able to run out at Beaver Stadium finally is a once in a lifetime (opportunity) for me. And to have my family come up there for every game, it means the world to me.”

Myrick said Franklin told him that he will play running back to start his PSU career, with the possibility of switching to defensive back at some point.

It won’t be easy. It never is for walk-ons. They have to work harder than everyone else to prove they belong in major college football.

But Myrick had a tremendous line when asked about the challenge he faces.

“I’m used to being the big man on campus, and when I go up there, I’ll be like the small man on campus, I guess,” he said with a chuckle.

But he promises one thing.

“I am 100 percent sure that I will outwork people,” Myrick said. “It’s just how I’m built. I’m in the gym constantly. I’m actually in the parking lot of a gym right now (doing this interview by phone).

“There’s 125 players on the roster, and only 85 get scholarships,” he added. “And most walk-ons don’t get any money until usually like junior, senior year. So, you’re almost betting on yourself that your’e gonna outwork other players and get on the field. You have to think about it that way.”

Myrick will be worth keeping an eye on in the coming years, and we’ll see if he gets opportunities to play.

No matter what, though, he can feel good about the decision he made, and that he got a little lucky in how things played out.

“I feel relieved that my bet paid off,” Myrick said, “and I’m a Nittany Lion now.”

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