LAS VEGAS -- Utah State is rolling out the Heisman Trophy campaign again for quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
Last year at the Mountain West media days in Las Vegas, the school handed out trading cards. This year, they've got for something right in a reporter's wheelhouse: notebooks. Several stacks of Chuckie 4 Heisman notebooks sit next to the stacks of Utah State media guides on the table in the media work room.
Keeton's coach, Matt Wells, has no hesitation pumping his player up a little bit.
"In our program, our little saying is "players make plays and players win games'," Wells said. "That's a young man that's helped us win a lot of games. Any individual attention and accolades that he can get, I know will be very well-deserved and well-earned, because that young man puts the team first. He cares more about that logo right there than he does about himself."
Keeton, who was born in Berkeley but raised in Houston, was having a terrific 2013 season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament against BYU, a week after torching San Jose State during a 40-12 blasting at Spartan Stadium. If he's fully recovered and healthy, Keeton's definitely the best player in the conference (he was named preseason conference offensive player of the year despite the injury). Is he a Heisman candidate?
It's always a stretch coming from a smaller conference. But if he's good enough -- and Utah State's good enough -- there's a chance he could make himself a finalist. A big game and a win in the opener at Tennessee would definitely help Keeton.
Wells has an interesting approach for how he views players and individual goals.
"Our biggest thing at Utah State -- and I try to feed into it -- is I want selfish individual goals and aspirations for each one of those kids," Wells said. "Whether it be Chuckie Keeton, whether it be Kyler Fackrell, Zach Vigil. I want them to have selfish individual goals and aspirations within a team concept."
Keeton appreciates the effort from his school to do a little promoting and is a big fan of the notebooks.
"Oh, it's really cool," Keeton said. "I'm definitely going to bring that to class.
"I really appreciate the school for backing me up. I just love that it says Utah State on it."
How are his teammates reacting to the promotional tool?
"I'm not going to have one," said Vigil, a standout senior linebacker. "I promise you that."
To which Keeton replied, "I'm going to walk around training camp, handing them out to every room: 'You've got to put your notes in this. ...' "
Vigil, who was teasing his quarterback with his earlier comments, then lavished his praise.
"We're happy for Chuck and the way he's able to represent the school in that positive manner."