Tulane wide receiver Lawrence Keys III expects to make bigger contribution in 2023
Michael Pratt said in one of the tunnels under Yulman Stadium after the American Athletic Conference Championship Game in December that Lawrence Keys III is a player to watch moving forward.
In one of the Green Wave’s most recent spring practices, Pratt sent a 40-yard touchdown toss to the former Notre Dame transfer in a moment that backs up that statement. Keys looks like a player who has a chance to evolve into one of the best receivers in the AAC in 2023.
The Green Wave is dealing with the loss a plethora of talent to the 2023 NFL Draft and graduation after a storybook season, but much talent remains on campus for a strong follow-up campaign.
One of those is Keys, whose role is likely to expand in the upcoming season after the Green Wave utilized his versatility in a number of ways in 2022. The McDonogh 35 High School alum has made his name known every time Tulane has hit the practice field in March. He is focused on the little things as he works to become a better all-around player.
“Just going to practice every day and competing,” Keys said. “Working on new things and just taking on a bigger role and improving my details and technique and looking forward to taking on a lot this year.”
Keys was quietly effective last year, but he began to demand more attention in the back half of a season that culminated in a historic Cotton Bowl Comeback over the USC Trojans.
In 2022, he finished with 30 receptions for 296 yards with three touchdowns. A memorable moment was not even with the ball in his hands as Key blocked a player 60 yards down the field on a play in the New Year’s Six bowl. It was the type of effort he performed willingly and showed part of his evolution as an all-around player.
“I’ve never done that,” Keys explained. “But I’m just a team player, you know. When it’s time to be there, I’ll be there. Whether I have the ball or not. It was amazing just blocking somebody. Especially after Jha’Quan (Jackson) caught the ball. I kind of just looked and I was like ‘I know this guy can’t beat me or Quan, so just take him out and Quan just did the rest.”
Moving forward, Keys says he couldn’t be more excited about Tulane’s wide receiver room – particularly with the speed they bring to the table. He also feels that he has found a rhythm heading into his second season with the Wave.
“It took a while for me to get comfortable. It comes with just growth. Getting into the program and learning everything and just getting back under my feet and shaking off the rust from last year and some off of it.”
Head coach Willie Fritz is optimistic about the potential Keys and the receiver corps quality as a whole.
“I’m really excited about the new additions we have with Dontae Fleming and Yulkeith Brown. They really fit in. Lawrence (Keys) really came on at the end of the year. I think he can be a big-time contributor. He was a very good contributor last year, but I think he’s got a chance to be an all-conference guy, first team… we’ve got a good, deep group over there.”
With spring football coming to a close this month, Keys and the rest of the Tulane team are looking forward to running it back.
“We have the same goal. Everything that happened last year, we put that behind us now. Now it’s the 2023 team and now we’re looking to go even further.”
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Crissy Froyd is a sports reporter of roughly nine years who graduated from LSU and has spent time at USA TODAY SMG, NBC Sports and the Fan Nation network on Sports Illustrated. She specializes in quarterback analysis and covers the SEC and college football across the state of Louisiana in addition to working with several college quarterbacks across the nation.