by Scott Scroggins
AUBURN, Ala. -- The Auburn Creed talks about having “a spirit that is not afraid.” Senior defensive lineman Keymiya Harrell definitely embodies this characteristic. Harrell has stood up to adversity that would cause many to give up.
A part of Auburn’s 2011 signing class, the Selma, Ala., native redshirted his first season with the Tigers, and then saw limited action in 2012.
Harrell tore the ACL in his right knee during spring practice in 2013, requiring surgery. Following his recovery, Harrell appeared in one game during Auburn’s run to the BCS championship game, seeing action in the Tigers’ 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic.
During the following offseason, Harrell suffered another ACL tear in the same knee. This injury required doctors to take the patellar tendon from his left leg to repair his torn ACL.
Harrell admits there were hard times during his recovery, but he says he found comfort in the relationship he developed with chaplain Chette Williams. “Brother Chette has been big through the whole process because it’s tough to deal with, and you need someone to talk to,” Harrell said. “He’s helped me through.”
With his injuries behind him, Harrell is approaching his senior season with great anticipation and believes Auburn can regain its place among the nation’s elite in part because of the confidence that defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has brought to the defense.
“Coach Muschamp brought a lot of energy to the team, a lot of confidence,” Harrell said. “We know if we believe in him we will be successful, so I think the guys are buying in and coming together as a team.
“I think we can go all the way this year. I really believe that. I’m looking forward to the season.”
Despite the hardships Harrell has faced on the field, he has persevered and will be walking away with something that will benefit him long after his football career is over -- two degrees from Auburn University. Harrell received his bachelor’s degree in public administration last December, and is currently on track to receive a master’s degree in adult education in December. After his playing days are over, Harrell wants to stay close to the game as a strength and conditioning coach on the high school or college level.
No matter what Harrell chooses to do in life, it’s the lessons he’s learned of never giving in to adverse circumstances during his Auburn career that will carry him a long way. “I just have that mindset that I am going to get back on the field, no matter what it takes,” Harrell said.
Selma native Scott Scroggins is a research assistant in the Auburn athletics communications office - follow him for statistical research and notes @ScrogginsNoggin