Abilene High grad hopeful for NFL draft
ABILENE, Texas - Former Abilene High wide receiver great Keevan Lucas has a big weekend ahead of him. Hearing his name called during the NFL draft would be a lifelong dream turned into reality after all the nightmares he's been through.
"You can't hold that kid back. You tell him he can't do something, that's all he needs to hear," now retired AHS football head coach Steve Warren said about Lucas, who is projected as a possible selection in the fourth-through-seventh rounds of the draft.
Lucas has fought through season-ending injuries at Abilene High and Tulsa University. His senior year with the Eagles was cut short because of torn meniscus he suffered against Midland Lee.
Then, he tore his patella tendon in his right knee during his junior year with the Golden Hurricane.
"You tell him he's too small or too slow, or you can't come back from this injury, you can't do that. That's all he needs to be told," said Warren.
But those injuries, which sidelined Lucas for several months each, weren't as big of hardships compared to the tragedy when he was 14 years old.
Lucas' mother, Kimberly, passed away from brain aneurysm. Three days later his grandmother, Bernice Ware, died when she had a massive heart attack and stroke.
"Everything that was going on emotionally inside of him, he turned it loose into his work ethic and on the football field. That was a release for him," said Warren.
"You could tell it was personal to him. He wanted to be as good as he could be and I think that fueled his fire. It was really special to watch a kid have to go through that, that came from that kind of background to have the kind of success he did."
Lucas started five and played in all 12 games his freshman season at Tulsa, before having a breakout year as a sophomore.
Lucas caught 101 passes for 1219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He bounced back from his injury-shortended junior year with 81 catches for 1180 yards and a school-record tying 15 touchdowns, including three scores in the Miami Beach Bowl.
"It should be exciting for Abilene because you've got a good kid that's a product of Abilene, Texas, that's got a chance to make a name for himself in the NFL," said Warren.
Pro scouts say Lucas uses his 5'9" height well near the goal line by high-pointing the football, and is able to work the middle of the field with soft hands.
However, scouts point out a lack of quickness required to be a slot receiver in the NFL. If Lucas is chosen he'll be the first Big Country player to be drafted since Brownwood/Early's Kenny Vaccaro in 2013 by New Orleans.
"I tell you this, if he doesn't get picked, whoever picks him as a free agent is going to get a real steal."
Lucas is holding a draft watch party on Saturday from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. at X-Golf in Abilene.