TAYLORSVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - All it takes is a 20 mile drive along Highway 28 to watch two of Mississippi’s most talented football players.
Taylorsville’s Ty Keyes and Magee’s Chandler Pittman are ranked No. 6 and No. 9, respectively, among ESPN’s top Mississippi recruits in the class of 2021.
College coaches from all over the country have their eyes on the two South Mississippi kids – and they’ve kept an eye on one another as well.
“[Keyes] has a rocket arm,” said Pittman, who at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds has played every position from quarterback, wide receiver to free safety. “And his ability just to extend plays, get the ball down the field in a hurry and really take the top off any time.”
“Every time we’re off, I go to [Pittman’s] games,” said Keyes, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound quarterback. “He’s very good, his speed. He knows how to control the pressure. Anybody gets to him, he knows how to control all that. He’s going to be a very good player.”
Though they’ve never lined up in high school game, the two did compete against one another in a 7-on-7 camp two summers ago.
Any given Friday night on any given football field, Keyes shifts in the pocket and threads the needle. Meanwhile, Pittman turns his cleats into skates, gliding past unwary defenders.
Its these natural abilities that have caught the eyes of college scouts – with over 30 Division I scholarship offers between the two.
Just days after winning the 2017 class 2A state championship as a freshman, Keyes heard from both Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Since then, he’s received offers from Southern Miss, Auburn, Arkansas, Oregon and Nebraska (among others).
Pittman’s 3.95 grade-point-average has opened the door for offers from schools like Army and Navy. His 4.36 speed in the 40-yard dash has also compelled coaches to see him as a wide receiver at the next level.
After de-committing from Ole Miss in April, Pittman fields a bevy of other offers from the likes of Southern Miss, Florida State, Memphis, Tulane and Arkansas State.
“Chandler’s the type of guy who’s going to be in the House of Representatives or Lieutenant Governor or something like that,” said Magee head coach Teddy Dyess, who enters his 28th season coaching high school football. “He has a natural leadership quality about him. If he signs with your school, goes there five years and never touches the field, you’re going to be proud he was a part of your program.”
“[Keyes is] one of those kids that he loves it,” said Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans, who has gone 45-2 with Keyes as his quarterback. “He rivals anything we’ve ever had here. Of course, Billy [Hamilton] and Jason [Campbell] played at the highest level. I think he has the ability. It’s all about the situation he gets put in at the next level.”
After three years of being courted by football coaches, that next-level decision hovers above the two rising seniors.
Campus visits have turned into Zoom meetings and Facetimes this summer. The calls ramp up as the fall inches closer.
“Recruiting is tough because coaches are going to be calling you here and there, trying to get on the phone with you,” said Keyes, who is just 3,008 passing yards and 40 touchdowns shy of breaking Myles Brennan’s state records.
“Honestly, I’m just looking for a place where I can call home,” Pittman said. “Where I feel like I can play at the highest level for the next four years and where the coaching staff, they love me.”
There will be time to think about college football but for now, Keyes and Pittman look forward to those Friday nights. And the goal for both – win a state championship.
They may don different colors, but the schools they play for are much the same.
They’re just a couple of small-town kids with the same big dream.
“There’s a lot of pride in places like Taylorsville, Bassfield, Mize, Mount Olive, Collins,” Dyess said. “Those kids grow up when they’re five, six, seven years old – they want to be on Trojan Field, they want to be on Tartar Field.”
“The community – this community, when something happens everybody’s going to come together as one,” Keyes said.
“Put in the work, put in the time. No matter where you’re coming from, even from a town like this, you can do it,” Pittman said.
Keyes said he plans to commit to a school prior to the 2020 season while Pittman hopes to make his decision sometime during the season.