Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 17, 2013

CMU duo has NFL hopes

By JAMES COOK jcook@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — MOUNT PLEASANT — In 2008, two Traverse City kids went to Mount Pleasant.

Five years later, they're hoping to go to the NFL.

Kicker David Harman and offensive guard Darren Keyton both made their marks with the Chippewas.

Keyton played in 47 games for CMU, starting 36, after a standout career at TC West. Harman, who played at TC Central, was CMU's back-to-back Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 and ended up sixth on the school's career lists for field goals (37) and extra points (98).

"It was a great experience, both of us being from Traverse City, even though we were cross-town rivals in high school," Keyton said. "It was fun having another kid from Traverse City on the team."

Harman has hit the combine circuit hard, participating in three to show off his leg that drilled a 47-yard field goal to defeat Iowa.

"I think I did well for the most part," Harman said. "I think I might have left a couple kicks out there. But that's kind of the nature of the business. You're not going to make every kick.

"It's kids from all across the country — little schools, big schools and a big mix of people — so it was cool to interact with everybody. But then you also have that sort of competitive, 'I have to be better than everyone' sense."

On Saturday, he'll compete in the Ohio vs. Michigan Senior Bowl at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He's the only kicker on the Michigan team.

Keyton hasn't had to promote himself that much. Eric Fisher has done that for him.

Central Michigan's left tackle is expected to be selected in the top five of next week's draft, and every time an NFL coach looks at Fisher's tape, they'll see Keyton three spots over on the line, opening holes for the Chippewa offense than averaged 6.2 yards a play.

"With Fisher being a top-5 draft pick — even possibly going No. 1 — all the coaches and scouts are looking at film," Keyton said. "So they're looking at me as well.

"I've gotten a couple phone calls from a few teams. But mainly, I've been working out and running to stay in shape so I'll be ready for mini-camps to start once the draft is over. If you're getting calls between now and when the draft comes, it means you're on team's (draft) boards. So anything can happen."

One team that could be Keyton's landing spot is the Cincinnati Bengals. Not only do the Bengals have a long history of drafting and signing CMU offensive linemen, but Keyton has a relationship with offensive line coach Paul Alexander.

"Paul Alexander knew me in high school," Keyton said. "He was at one of the camps I went to. It was the Midwest Offensive Line camp. That's where I first got to meet coach Alexander through coach (Greg) Sherwin, who was my offensive line coach."

Keyton has stood toe-to-toe with NFL-caliber players such as Michigan State's Jerel Worthy.

"Jerel's a great player, and once he knows the snap count, he's a very great player," Keyton said. "So you have to change up the snap counts on him, or it's going to be a long day."

Keyton blocked for Harman some during their CMU career — mostly early on when the two were redshirt sophomores.

"I think Darren definitely has a chance," Harman said. "You can't teach 6-3 and 300 pounds. That's an NFL body type. He probably just feels the same way, that he needs an opportunity to go somewhere to showcase what he can do. I think he's got a really good chance."