Ethan Carde lifts his teammate up after the offense scores a touchdown.

Left tackle Ethan Carde at Texas Tech and long snapper Justin Keijers at the University of Central Arkansas are having great success at the Division I college level. The former Bloomingdale Bulls came from humble beginnings, starting their college careers as teammates at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas.

The former college roommates still root for each other. “Justin was my boy, he was always wanting to get better and have a good time,” said Carde. “He is a special player because his mind is on the right path for the goals he’s trying to reach.”

“He was a great teammate,” said Keijers. “He’s a great kid, he brings you up, and you can have a full conversation with him and talk to him about anything and he won’t judge you. He’s a hard worker. When he gets on that field, he’s focused and you can’t joke around with him.”

Carde has always wanted to play football at the DI level, and at 6 ft. 8 in. and 315 pounds, he always had the potential. He earned an offer from Texas Tech and has taken advantage of his opportunity, starting as the left tackle for the Red Raiders in the offensive-happy Big 12.

“It was amazing,” said Carde. “I’ve always wanted to play on the big screen and I finally got to. It means a lot to me because all the hard work is starting to pay off, and my parents don’t have to pay for my college.”

Keijers started off playing multiple positions at Bloomingdale as a tight end, center and long snapper. Former Bloomingdale Head Coach Max Warner encouraged Keijers to pursue a college scholarship as a long snapper because he saw great potential in him. His only scholarship offer came from Coffeyville, where he played for one season and got noticed by the University of Central Arkansas.

On his first snap at the junior college level, Keijers snapped the ball over the punter’s head. He did not let that deter him, however, as he had perfect snaps for the rest of the season. He felt that he needed that one bad snap to move on and get it over with. He later received a scholarship to play at Central Arkansas, where he hasn’t had a bad snap yet.

“My first time on the field I was nervous and I had butterflies in my stomach,” said Keijers. “A long snapper can’t mess up. You have one job and you cannot mess it up. That’s all that goes through my head when I go on the field.”

Both Carde and Keijers have dreams and aspirations of playing in the NFL one day. Their former high school coach, current Bloomingdale Head Coach Jake Coulson, believes that both players have a chance of doing that.

“I think they both have the potential to play on Sunday,” said Coulson.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.