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Panthers Sports

Welch signs National Letter with Morehead State football

Posted Friday, February 08, 2008 by Jp Dale
Article from Madison Courier 02/08/08
home : sports : sports Friday, February 08, 2008

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2/8/2008 3:00:00 PM Email this article • Print this article
Welch signs National Letter with Morehead football

Mark Campbell
Sports Editor

“... It’s a really good program with a lot of potential next year and I decided I wanted to be a part of that.” Keith Welch on Morehead State University’s football program (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)

Carroll County’s standout runningback/quarterback/defensive back Keith Welch signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for Morehead State University Thursday. A high school library packed with classmates, teammates, coaches and staff attended the ceremony. Those at the signing table included (from left) Carroll football head coach Mike Weedman, Welch, and guardians Hillary and Beau Arney. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)

With programs like Wofford, Furman, Alcorn State and Mississippi showing interest, Carroll County's Keith Welch didn't find much to like about Morehead State University the first time he visited campus.

But Welch gave the Eagles a second chance and that proved to be the difference when the Panther runningback/quarterback/defensive back finally signed a National Letter of Intent Thursday to play football for the Kentucky program.

"A couple of my coaches, J.P. Dale and Chris Stockdale, went there and I visited a couple of times," Welch said. "But the first time I wasn't sure if it was the right place for me. The second time I interacted with the players and found that they're a pretty good group of guys and I got to know the program better. It's a really good program with a lot of potential next year and I decided I wanted to be a part of that."

And the good thing about Welch is that he could be a part of the Eagles' program in a number of ways. As a four-year starter at Carroll County he's done just about everything for the Panthers and done it all well.

Welch has been an integral player on both offense and defense. As a runningback and quarterback, Welch rolled up 4,876 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns in his career including 1,160 rushing yards his senior year when he also logged 584 yards receiving.

At the same time, Welch was playing both ways and recorded 72 pass breakups and 22 interceptions in his career - an interception mark that tied Carroll's school record and ranks fifth in the state.

Welch has also received kickoffs, punts and served as a team leader and go-to guy just about every time the Panthers needed a big play either offensively or defensively.

"The good thing about Keith is he is a utility player. He can play anywhere and play well," Carroll football coach Mike Weedman said. "He can be your defensive back, strong safety, cornerback, runningback or quarterback. He's naturally talented and he works very hard. He's a good student, a great player and an even better person. Morehead's getting a great player and we're going to have a huge void to fill next year."

Welch thinks Morehead will most likely use him on defense as a cornerback or safety. His athleticism - he runs cross country and track along with playing football and basketball - makes him a versatile component for any team. He can sprint through the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds or run all day and he's an enthusiastic weight lifter.

"He's relentless in the weight room," Weedman said. "That's one of the things nobody else sees. He's a steady player all game who can break a big play any second. He's a yes sir, no sir kind of guy and his football IQ is really rare. Anything is possible with Keith."

Welch, who has a 3.35 grade point average at Carroll County, ranks high in his senior class and has already qualified academically based on a high SAT score. He is undecided about a major at this time but is ready to take on the challenges of college and playing at the next level.

Morehead State, once a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, is now a non-scholarship program in the Pioneer Football League where Morehead was 7-4 overall, 5-2 in the conference last season. The Eagles are eligible for the NCAA Division I Subdivision playoffs and have one of the top defenses in the Subdivision.

"They're non-scholarship but Morehead football is really heading in the right direction," said Beau Arney, a Carroll assistant coach who also serves as Welch's guardian. "They play a good schedule and they are very competitive.

Welch is eager to be a part of that. And after playing both ways at Carroll the past four years as well as three other sports, he is also eager to see just how good he can be by focusing on one position in one sport.

"It think it's going to be a good change," Welch said. "I know I'm going to be working hard this spring and summer to be ready for the fall. I've got to work hard and make sure I'm just a little bit better than everybody else. That's what it takes, This summer is going to be the hardest I've ever worked in my life."

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