Change of direction
Dorian Keys thought football was his future — then wrestling happened
By Mike Beas
When Dorian Keys needs an escape, he immerses himself in the world of animation, whether it’s a tracking the travels of a young ninja named Naruto or intently watching “The Seven Deadly Sins” on Netflix.
Conversely, there’s nothing cartoonish about what the Brownsburg senior has accomplished athletically the past two years.
At 5-foot-11-inches, 270-pounds, Keys started two seasons for the Bulldogs football team. Most impressively, he won a state wrestling championship last winter despite having been away from the sport for three years.
“I did my first year of wrestling in the eighth grade, and then I stopped to focus on football,” said Keys. “I picked it back up as a junior because Darrick Snyder, our head coach, talked me into it. I decided to give it a try and see what happened. Never in a million years did I see myself winning a state championship.”
Keys previously attended Ben Davis High School before transferring to Brownsburg. As a sophomore he participated in three of the Giants football games as the program ran the table with a 14-0 record and Class 6A state championship. The following year Keys was one of the Bulldogs’ defensive leaders with 43 tackles, including 13 for loss.
It was around this time Keys figured football was his best chance of becoming a college athlete.
Then wrestling season happened.
At the time, Snyder wasn’t sure if Keys would even try out for the 2018-19 season. Or maybe Keys would show up for a few sessions, stop and go back to focusing on becoming the best defensive tackle possible.
“Dorian moved to Brownsburg his junior year and hadn’t worn a singlet since the eighth-grade. It was three months of people talking to him, and on the first day of wrestling practice, he was there,” said Snyder. “He is extremely coachable and is extremely competitive. Dorian hates losing, and if he does is one of those kids who asks what he has to do to fix it.”
Keys returned to the mat this season a marked man due to last year’s postseason run. He won his first 44 matches before losing a 3-2 decision to Hamilton Southeastern senior Andrew Irick in the semifinals of the 285-pound weight class at the state finals inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Keys bounced back to finish third, defeating Damari Dancy of Portage, 3-1, in the consolation match to finish his career with a record of 84-5. As a team, Brownsburg placed fourth on the sport’s biggest stage, the program’s fifth consecutive top four finish after winning it all in 2017, being runner-up in 2016 and 2018 and coming in third a year ago.
Keys, who carries a 3.4 grade-point average, will wrestle in college. He’s narrowed his choices to Minnesota, Purdue and Northern Illinois and is interested in majoring in pre-law and finance.
“That’s what I tell college coaches, that he’s still getting better,” said Snyder. “Dorian has such a high ceiling.”