November 15, 2018

Thomas “Red” Keith inducted into CMU Hall of Fame

(Mount Pleasant, MI) — A Heard County Brave Hall of Famer added to his long list of athletic and academic accolades earlier this month when he was inducted into to his alma mater’s athletics Hall of Fame.

Thomas “Red” Keith was one of the six individuals inducted into the 2018 Hall of Fame Class at Central Michigan University. Keith was a standout linebacker for the Chippewas and the most successful college football player to hail from Franklin, GA.

According to CMU’s Hall of Fame announcement in July, Keith was the ‘linchpin’ of Central Michigan defenses, helping to lead the Chippewas to Mid-American Conference championships in 2006 and in ’07.

Thomas “Red” Keith during his HOF acceptance speech at CMU

A four-year starter, Keith led the Chippewas in tackles in each of his seasons and remains second in program history with 474 tackles.

In 2007, when he was named CMU’s most valuable player, he made a MAC-leading 148 stops, which still stands as the third highest single-season total for a Chippewa.

CMU capped that season with a win in the Motor City Bowl, the first bowl victory in program history.

Keith was named First Team All-MAC in both 2006 and 2007 after earning second team honors in 2005. In 2004, he was named a Freshman All-American.

Keith was a national finalist for the Awards and Recognition Association Sportsmanship Award and one of 22 student-athletes from across the nation named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.

Three times Keith earned Academic All-MAC honors and twice was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America All-District team.

As a Heard County senior under first year head coach Tim Barron, Keith helped lead the Braves to a 10-2 season and the second round of the state playoffs with the only two losses coming versus Top 10 opponents.

The CMU Athletics induction ceremony took place Friday evening, Oct. 12 at McGuirk Arena and the group was also introduced at halftime of the Chippewas’ Oct. 13 football game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium against Ball State. Keith was the only football player selected in the 2018 class.

Red was introduced at the induction ceremony by former Chippewa teammate and current Detroit Lion fullback Nick Bellore. Bellore talked about what a tremendous role model Keith was for him as a young freshman at the University.

During his acceptance speech, Red Keith talked about his humble beginnings in Heard County, the death of his mother, and his rise to the top from a low socioeconomic status.

“Tonight’s induction into the CMU Hall of Fame is my celebration of all that I have overcame and accomplished in my life both as a player and a person. So for a kid from Franklin, GA — one grocery store, one red light, one high school, everybody know everybody — before attending CMU, sitting in a small shack at home, flipping through the media guide telling my cousin that one day when I leave Central Michigan my name will be in the record books and also will be mentioned as one of the greatest ever to put on the maroon and gold,” said an emotional Keith during his speech.

Beyond the playing field, Keith is also an accomplished and highly recognized teacher.

After graduating from CMU in 2008 with a B.S. in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Arts of Teaching Secondary Math in 2012, keith has taught and coached at HCHS and is currently with the Carrollton City School system where he was named Carrollton City Schools System Teacher of the year for 2017-18. Also in 2018, he was recognized as a one of 10 teachers in the United States to be named a “2018 LifeChanger of the Year” award winner.

Keith was nominated for the esteemed Lifechanger Award by a colleague, Laura Fleck.

“Mr. Keith’s personal journey is what he attributes to his success as a teacher. Having grown up in a single parent, poverty stricken home and witnessing the daily struggles of family members and neighbors due to lack of education, Mr. Keith recognized the important of an education early on. Relatives often spoke of getting an education, but did not or could not articulate its importance to having a successful future. Their background excluded higher education, so they stressed finishing high school to prepare for work in industry,” said Fleck in her nomination.

“Mr. Keith has said his education came from teachers, coaches, and principals. These pivotal role models took him in, a student considered “at-risk” by most, and encouraged him to dream of a brighter world. They reached out to a child who didn’t know his potential, and gave him the guidance and advice on how to cultivate what they saw. These same mentors challenged him to dream big and see the possibilities. Being the first in his family to attend college, Mr. Keith realized there was more to life than factory work. As a teacher, his personal journey is a constant reminder that students come from various walks of life. Mr. Keith is always mindful that teaching is a lifestyle that extends beyond classroom walls and school hours. He routinely can be found visiting students, providing encouragement, and in the In-School Suspension Classroom during his planning period. When asked why he does this, he states that he does so because someone did the same for him.”

To see the full video of Thomas Red Keith’s CMU Hall of Fame acceptance speech, visit www.cmuchippewas.com.

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