If Dalton Keene becomes a star in New England, his high school head coach won’t be the least bit surprised.
The Patriots selected the versatile Virginia Tech tight end after executing an unprecedented trade in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. And Bret McGatlin, Keene’s coach at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo., believes Bill Belichick won’t regret the decision.
“He’s the most powerful athlete I’ve ever coached,” McGatlin recently told The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt.
“The Patriots are going to love how he works,” McGatlin said of the 6-foot-5 Keene, who played running back, H-back and wildcat quarterback in high school.
“He’s going to be one of those guys that I know, Belichick’s probably going to fall in love with … because he just works. They’re going to use Dalton the way Dalton should be used. This is me just talking out loud and thinking here, but I don’t think they brought him in just to be a blocker. He can do that and that’s why he’s so versatile, and he will block, but he can be a three-down player that can be out on the field all the time. He can do anything, so I think that’s part of why they traded up to get a guy that they think can probably be on the field every single down.
“ … If there are doubters, there shouldn’t be. They should know that he’s going to tear it up for you. He’s a special kid, he’s always thrived wherever he’s gone.”
Keene hardly set the world on fire at Virginia Tech, but it’s entirely possible the Hokies simply didn’t know what to do with his unique talents. Perhaps Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be able to unlock Keene’s vast potential.
Nevertheless, Belichick will readily admit Keene won’t become a stud overnight.