Keyshawn Helton’s story is remarkable already. Now that the door has been opened at Florida State, he’s rewarding coach Willie Taggart and the staff each day.
The work ethic and heart are there every day on the practice fields. On Friday, there was another reminder as Helton – a sophomore who is listed at 5-foot-9 – went up for a pass and hauled it down, prompting praise from Taggart and receivers coach Ron Dugans.
“I think Keyshawn is going to have a great year because of the way he’s been working,” Taggart said. “That kid works his tail off every single day.
“I know throughout the summer, I leave work, I see him coming off the field by himself sometimes with the cleats in his hands. He has the mindset that we’re looking for from this football team.”
Helton was a last-minute addition to the 2018 signing class, a player that Taggart heard about only because another Pensacola-area high school coach kept raving about the West Florida High receiver. He was so persistent that Taggart drove over to West Florida, saw Helton work out and invited him to Tallahassee on the last recruiting weekend before the February 2018 signing day.
And on that Sunday, sitting down with his parents in Taggart’s offer, coach extended the scholarship offer. Helton didn’t have many offers, and none from a school as prominent as FSU, mostly because of his height. But Taggart saw the talent and rolled the dice.
Helton had 11 catches for 176 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown catch and run against Clemson. This spring, Helton and D.J. Matthews have been among the most consistent receivers on the roster.
“I feel like I’m going to step into a big role this year,” Helton said. “Just trying to be confident in myself and be that leader that my team needs. Every time I step on the field I feel I have something to prove.”
Helton has that chip on his shoulder, and he works diligently to improve. He said that Dugans has worked with him to improve his “perimeter blocking,” which isn’t easy when the 170-pound receiver is out in space trying to block for a running back.
A nephew of Derrick Brooks and cousin of FSU teammate DeCalon Brooks, Helton has been a bright spot throughout the early stage of FSU’s preseason camp.
“He’s a playmaker on the field,” Taggart said. “Once I met him, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is the guy that I want right here.’ A guy that is very confident in his ability and what he can do. A guy that likes Florida State.”
Kaindoh returns to practice field
Joshua Kaindoh has missed some practice time in the preseason. But he was back on the practice field on Friday, moving around well in drills, dropping back into coverage, watching the quarterback’s eyes and tracking the ball.
Sheffield adding depth at running back
Deonte Sheffield has moved back to running back after spending some time at receiver last season.
“He’s having a heck of a training camp,” Taggart said. “He’s doing a great job running the football. You can tell he’s getting back in his running back form. Before he was in his receiver mentality and now he’s coming back and he’s running the ball very aggressive.”
Sheffield is technically a walk-on but provides depth at a running back position that is loaded with talent but has just three players in Cam Akers, Khalan Laborn and Anthony Grant.
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