Dalton Keene Declares for the NFL Draft

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Dalton Keene Virginia Tech
Dalton Keene surprised many by declaring for the NFL Drafte after his true junior season. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene has announced that he is declaring for the NFL Draft.

A true junior, Keene is from Littleton, Colorado. He started 38 of 39 career games and caught 59 career passes for 748 yards and eight touchdowns.

Keene made the announcement after midnight Friday night in this tweet, writing:

Keene was a productive receiver and blocker at Virginia Tech, and in the 2019 season, he also had 11 rushes for 33 yards.

Keene’s father, Wesley, was a college roommate with former Virginia Tech defensive line coach and Keene’s co-primary recruiter, Charley Wiles (who was hired this past week by North Carolina State, along with former VT cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell).

The departure of Dalton Keene leaves three scholarship tight ends on the Virginia Tech roster (eligibility refers to the 2020 season): junior James Mitchell (21 career catches, 361 yards, 2 TDs), sophomore Nick Gallo (11 career games played, one start, no catches), and redshirt junior Drake DeIuliis (17 career games, no catches). The Hokies have also signed one tight end in the recruiting 2020 class so far, Wilfried Pene.

Dalton Keene and James Mitchell bow in the end zone after a Virginia Tech score
(Ivan Morozov)
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44 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. True Junior! Why didn’t we shirt this guy? Oh, Wait….. You get my point. When you get really good players, you don’t shirt them – And still they leave with eligibility. Pretty much need to play them all, with the exception of a few linemen and your marginal recruits.

    Good luck Dalton. I think you’ll make it. Better to try early than late.

  2. Hope he tests well. When given opportunities he really excelled catching and running. Perplexing to me is where he would have a monster performance and then not hardly be targeted for the next 2 or 3 games. Maybe it was the scheme the defense was showing, but thinking the OC could have dialed up some attention for one of our most productive weapons. Good luck Hokie!

      1. There are only so many plays in a game. Hokies had a lot of talent at receiver to throw the ball to. The guy was even running the ball as a TE…how much more can you really get him the ball. Especially when you have Turner, Hazelton, Mitchell, Robinson’s, ect.

  3. Love Dalton, hate to see him go early. Wish him the best but I see his NFL career being similar to Sam Rogers, short and sweet due to lack of a defined role or elite athleticism, and mostly on practice squads. Will make a few bucks for sure but not sure if it’s worth foregoing his senior year…hope I’m wrong. Thanks for everything Rambo!

  4. College sports are becoming more and more similar to pro sports. Players leave teams all the time now… I wish nothing but the very best for DK; he was one of my favorites.

    But, this is a big part of why my lifelong interest in all sports is waning. No longer about the love of the sport; it’s about the benjamins. I’m growing weary of throwing mine away…

    1. I have to agree with you. It’s getting harder and harder to care about the sport anymore. It just business these days and my passion has been waning for a few years.

  5. Does anyone really think that Dalton’s dad would ask his son to make a life decision based on dad being pissed about Wiles?

    1. I am sure any coach that goes through a change in head coaches, then also their boss, the DC, knows that with each wave, their tenure is in questions. And i am sure he sees the goal of youth and a staff that will be years, like when Bud and he started.

      Wiles is a big boy, he landed on his feet, I wouldn’t think college coaches would want kids to make decisions like that, even if they were buddies with parents.

      Then again, who really knows?

  6. Keene is a leader and a true Hokie. Hope he gets drafted early and has a long career. No disrespect to him at all but I don’t think he has the speed to play in the NFL.

  7. If you have your degree, health, and your good enough. ..going is your only choice. Love the way he plays!!!

    1. ^^This^^

      Three year starter, three years in the strength and conditioning program. He is who he is as a player at this point, nothing more to prove in his collegiate career. I wish him the best! I hope he lands on a team that utilizes the Hback spot.

  8. Dalton has been my favorite player the last couple of years. Exemplifies what a team player is. Great leader and great young man. I will miss him but I think he will get his shot in the NFL because he is a great blocker on top of his other skills. All the best Dalton!

    1. You have said exactly what I was thinking. He brought the I will not be beat attitude that is vastly needed.

  9. Not going to lie; this one stings.
    Go out and have a terrific career Dalton to take some of the sting away.

    1. This is why I don’t agree with the always be redshirting mantra. If we had redshirted DK, we would only have had two years of PT, rather than three. It’s clear that if a freshman has NFL potential and and he can help your team, then play him because he’s likely to declare early, unless an injury occurs, then you still have the medical redshirt.

      1. It only hurts if there are not replacements. Mitchell and, presumably, Gallo, can replace the production. Blocking is another issue. If we had redshirted DK, he would still likely had needed 3 years of production to get to this point…. right? No guarantee he is ready to go pro after two years of PT.

      2. I think CC’s ABR (always be redshirting) strategy is based on the fact that VT simply can’t compete right now for the “freshman [who] has NFL potential.” I agree. DK was needed as a true frosh, but not obviously NFL material at the time. The coaches helped make him so, but I feel he is at best a sixth round choice at this point – I suspect an agent got to him much like Shyrone Stith. I think DK is making a bad decision but it is his life, so let it be.

        The cupboard was bare after the last few CFB years, but going forward we need to accept the fact that we will lose out more than in the past on players like Vick, Adibi, and Hall because the other, more traditional/funded programs have discovered VA – I put the inflection point when Percy Harvin went to UF.

        So get the best young players we can, start building another 10-win streak, and maybe in the future we can compete for those NFL-potential recruits.

  10. WOW! Who saw this coming — I’m shocked and disappointed. Of course, I only wish the very best for Dalton… I really hope it works out for him.

  11. Wish him the best of luck and appreciate his time at VT. Unfortunately, not sure where he plays in an NFL offense. Also, I’d be surprised if he gets drafted.

  12. “Something special is building in Blacksburg and I wish I could be a part of it, but this is the best decision”
    Really? This clearly doesn’t appear to be the best decision. The best decision is to play one more year and hope to have a breakout season. What does he know that we don’t? Family financial problems? Perhaps. Continued offensive scheme that does NOT highlight the tight end position? That has been the situation his whole time. Addition of new players that will diminish his playing time? I dunno.
    Or is his Dad so mad at CJF about the Charlie Wiles release that Dalton does not want to be caught in the middle of some Dad-Coach drama? I have zero insight into this situation, but just thinking about life at 20 or 21 and my decision making processes that seems like a real possibility. It could be WAY off base but that would at least make sense. Otherwise this makes no sense to me

    1. You have absolutely no basis whatsoever for making that statement. What if the NFL has told him that he’s projected to be a high draft pick who can command a seven-figure signing bonus? If that’s the case, then it’s absolutely the right decision.

      Or maybe there are things going on in his personal life that are driving his decision, things that require money now rather than a year from now?

      We have Mitchell and Gallo coming back at TE. We’ll be fine there. In the long run, it’s good for the program to have guys who weren’t highly recruited out of high school declaring early for the draft. It shows recruits that we know how to develop players.

      1. True! I think his projection is good and he felt pretty good about the NFL advisory. Many people had doubts about Terrell Edmunds declaring for the draft as a safety although his brother Tremaine was projected as a top 10 pick. Terrell was not listed as a top safety but the Steelers drafted him in the first round with the last pick. Dalton Keene has the skills desired by pro teams. He is athletic, great hands, good blocker, tough runner after making the catch, can contribute to special team and everything that define the TE job description in pros, is embodied in Keene. I wish him well and believe he will be successful on that level. Hope the Cowboys draft him.

      2. I said I had no insight into the situation, it just seems from a distance to be a poor decision. I wish him well, and hope I am wrong. He may be the next great H-back/TE, or he may be Ryan Malleck.

  13. Are the people advising Deshawn McClease and Dalton Keene the same ones that advised Jerod Evans and Shyrone Stith?

    1. McClease is a different situation. He was at VT for 5 years and will have 2 degrees. He is trying the NFL and if that he will move on with rest of his life (like all students).
      Not sure if Keene has/will graduate this year.

      1. After 5 years a sixth isn’t going to likely help. And he is coming off a healthy year, best time to try.

  14. I hate to see you leave but LOVE your play brother. Good luck Hokie, we know you will represent the Nation well in whatever you do. And thank you so much for that catch you ripped away from the UVA DB last year. That play (and many others but that play most of all) kept both streaks alive. And probably made many hoo fans question reality.

  15. so I look up DK’s draft prospects:

    https://walterfootball.com/draft2021TE.php

    they have top TE prospects for both ‘20 and ‘21 drafts listed. DK’s name doesn’t appear on either year’s list.

    flummoxed, i am. disappointed in his decision, his advisements, and what will be his lack of contribution to the 2020 team.

    best of Christ and life to you Mr DK. i sincerely “thank you” for your contributions to Hokie football and the football fun we have in Lane. i also sincerely hope you prove my skepticism 1000% wrong and have a great, injury-free, enriching nfl career and abundant life beyond.

    Go Hokies!

    1. Based on the listed above results , I don’t think his chances of a NFL career are dismal at best. Similar to Jerod Evans, one and done !

  16. Letting Charley Wiles go might have weighed heavily on his decision.I think he can make an impact in the right situation.It is hard to loose the tough guys!

    1. I would bet that Wiles being let go was a significant factor. Rambo was a great player for us and I wish him the best. His talents are the kind that seldom show up on the stat sheet, but are noticed by people who pay attention. That probably explains why he isn’t listed extremely highly among NFL tight end prospects. But his skill set and intangibles will likely be noticed by one or two sharp pro scouts. Considering how tight Dalton’s father and Coach Wiles were, I’m sure that Rambo was pretty close to ‘ol Charley. I can’t peer into the young man’s mind, but perhaps he viewed Wiles’ forced departure as a betrayal of trust.

      1. Someone asked him that on Twitter, and this is what Keene wrote, “Not the case at all. Of course I was disappointed about Coach wiles. That had nothing to do with my decision. I’m just doing what I think is best for me as a player. I have nothing but love for Coach Fuente and the rest of the coaching staff”

      2. If DK let the release of his favorite coach guide his decision to leave college, then he’s not the leader everyone says he is.

        Hope he makes it. Was a force in the locker room and on the field.

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