Virginia Tech junior tight end Dalton Keene announced his intentions to forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday night. Keene made his announcement via Twitter.
This will be a tough one for Virginia Tech fans. Keene is a fan favorite. A member of the class of 2017, Keene was a big get for head coach Justin Fuente. The 6’4”, 251-pound Keene played in all 13 games as a true freshman, making 12 starts, catching 10 passes for 167 yards.
As a sophomore in 2018, Keene started all 13 games for the Hokies. He caught 28 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He caught the game-winner at UNC and also made a huge reception in the win over Virginia in Blacksburg that season.
In 2019, Keene’s role on offense grew even more. Again, he started all 13 games, catching 21 passes for 240 yards and five touchdowns. In a win at Miami back in October, Keene caught five passes for 73 yards and three scores. Keene also carried the ball 11 times in 2019.
Keene was an extremely versatile player who the Hokies will miss on offense. He can play the traditional tight end role, line up as a fullback or h-back, or also in the slot. He wore many hats for Justin Fuente and Co. He was a physical presence in the running game, too. Check out this block on former Hokie, Trevon Hill.
Keene’s father, Wes, was a college teammate of former defensive line coach Charley Wiles. Not sure if Wiles’ ouster played any part in Keene’s decision. That relationship certainly played a major role in getting Keene to Blacksburg.
The upcoming draft class for tight ends is not a strong one. Keene should do well at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, which will only enhance his chances of going higher in the April draft. His versatility is what NFL teams are looking for, so don’t be surprised if he goes much higher than some analysts predict right now.
While this is a massive loss, fortunately the Hokies have another future NFL tight end in James Mitchell. We noted many times this season how Keene and Mitchell should have been more involved in the game plan on a weekly basis. Also, promising sophomore Nick Gallo returns.
We are all going to miss Dalton Keene in Blacksburg. But we are fans for life and rooting for Keene to have a long and prosperous NFL career.