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Local football talent happy to come home to play for Florida State

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 19:06:57-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — One of the best things about high school football on Friday nights is the talent people get to watch on the field. Even more special is when we get to see those same guys play on Saturdays.

In the early signing period, Florida State picked up four guys who used to play under the lights on Fridays across the Big Bend and south Georgia. Their journeys to get here are all different, but all four are excited to be here.

"Obviously, when they put their name in the hat, it was pretty hard to deny that," reflected Tyler Keltner on his decision to play for the Seminoles. Keltner rewrote the kicking record books at East Tennessee State. After four solid years of stats, he was ready for a change. The Chiles High grad didn't think it'd be the for the school he'd grown up watching.

"I remember being at a black out game in like 2005 when I was like four years old coming into Doak on my dad's back."

Keltner is now a Seminole himself, and three of his new teammates, are happy to be close to home as well.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with tickets," joked Jaheim Bell, who played at Valdosta High School. "I hope my teammates can help me out because they'll be a whole section just of my family!"

Bell, Gadsden County's Darrell Jackson, and Maclay's Peyton Naylor join Keltner as the latest local editions to the Seminoles roster.

"It means a lot," said Jackson of representing Gadsden County. "To help kids in my community, them looking up towards me, to let them know if I did it, they can do it."

"I love that fact that my parents can come watch me with a 20 or 30 minute drive," added Naylor.

The chance to play in their own backyard, and to play with old teammates again, as Bell links back up with Tate Rodemaker, and Jackson with Josh Farmer.

"That's my boy," laughed Jackson. "We're on the phone with each other every night."

To play for a program on the rise was also more than enough to bring them back home, because at the end of the day, there's no place like it. Naylor is the only high school signee out of that local group. He graduated from Maclay in December and enrolled early. Keltner again, comes from ETSU, while Bell transferred from South Carolina and Jackson from Miami.