Sept. 24, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
KeShun Freeman’s success over the first four games of Georgia Tech’s season is no small feat.
In fact, the way the 6-1, 236-pound, Hogansville, Ga., native has come up huge at defensive end has been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for the Yellow Jackets in their 4-0 start.
Don’t worry about using size references around Freeman. They don’t bother him.
He’s heard them all his life and has answered the same way at every level — off the field with a thoughtful, well-mannered, and good-natured demeanor, on the field with relentless determination and by putting up numbers to shut up the doubters.
KeShun was a two-year captain at Callaway High School, leading the Cavaliers to regional championships in 2012 and 2013, when they went 12-2. He earned Region 4AAA Player of the Year in 2012, when he recorded 97 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and four sacks. Academically he carried a 4.0 GPA, ranked in the top five percent of his class, earned the honor “Mr. Callaway High School.”
He’ll be earning honors at Georgia Tech very soon the way he’s started. Through four games, Freeman is tied for fifth on the team with 15 tackles (10 solo), making a career-best five in Saturday’s 27-24 victory at Virginia Tech. He’s recorded 3.0 tackles for loss (tied for second), and is tied for the team lead with 1.5 sacks, recording the team’s first of the season at Tulane. Freeman has the Jackets’ lone fumble recovery this season and it’s one of the biggest plays of the season, getting Tech one final possession against Georgia Southern, which the Jackets cashed in for the game-winning touchdown.
Perhaps most important, Freeman, who has started the last two games, has been consistent, registering at least four tackles in every game —the one game he didn’t was at Tulane, where his lone tackle was the sack.
Freeman talked with The Good Word about living his dream, inspiring other little guys to reach their dreams and causing bigger offensive linemen nightmares.
THE GOOD WORD: Are you surprised by the kind of start you’ve had playing D-I college football?
FREEMAN: Coming in, I was thinking, ‘My first year just try to adapt to playing with guys who are in their 20s.’ But I’m working with them and learning how to move my hands and feet fast. I was looking at film and I was like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t think I could move like that.’ I’m seeing myself growing up and being more mature in the sport. Last year I was just imagining myself doing these things. Now I’m actually doing them. It’s mind-blowing. It’s really amazing. It’s a blessing. I’m in the ACC playing ACC football. That is a blessing in itself. I’m very happy about that. My mom and my dad are more excited about me and the whole season and everything because they’re getting so many people calling them saying, ‘Your son is such an inspiration to the kids in our hometown.’ So I think they’re as excited as I am.
2. TGW: How satisfying is it for you to inspire kids in Hogansville and, really, everywhere who get the “too small” label?
FREEMAN: It’s a good thing. I’ve always wanted to do something and show people that, ‘Hey, just because people say you can’t do it, you can do it.’ Growing up I had issues with bullying and I overcame it. So I want other kids to know that if you’re in a problem right now it won’t last always. You can rise up and you will be somebody.
3. TGW: How often did you hear you were too small growing up?
FREEMAN: I heard it all my life. Growing up, people wouldn’t expect me to play football because I was the corny kid in class and when I finally started playing people were like, ‘Whoa, KeShun is doing pretty good in football.’ So I never really listened to people saying the nays. I always listened to my family and my friends saying, ‘You can do it. You can do it.’ It’s always been like that. Every time an obstacle would come, I’ve always been able to hurdle over it. That’s my mentality. My way of life is, ‘If people say ‘No’ I know I can.’
4. TGW: At 6-1, 236, how do you handle spotting opposing offensive linemen so much weight?
FREEMAN: I’ve always been the smaller guy at the position but I have great strength and I’m really coachable. Whatever my coaches tell me to do I’m going to pursue it the way they tell me to do it. So being coached well, with knowing how to use my ability, I know I’m pretty quick, so I can get off the line. If I have to extend my arms I know to keep driving my feet and keep pushing my arms. I never settle for people saying how small I am. I always know that ‘Hey, if my coach tells me I can do it and I believe I can do it, then I can do it.’
5. TGW: What is your favorite part of college life away from football?
FREEMAN: Just the city itself. There’s always something to do. If I feel like I want to go to Six Flags, I can go to Six Flags. If I want to eat at a nice restaurant, I can eat at a nice restaurant. So the city is a really great thing.
TGW: What is one thing people may not know?
FREEMAN: When I was younger, I did Taekwondo for like three or four years, from like eight until like 11 and I got all the way to red belt. (That’s only one level below black belt).
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