Keoni Denny is one of the better young athletes that the Tampa Bay area has to offer. The Sumner High School product is spotlighted in today’s article.
By Brian Smith @fbscout_florida
While Riverview Sumner High School begins its first true full season this next fall, it will have one of the top junior talents in the greater Tampa area on its roster. Keoni Denny is a name that high school football fans, as well as college coaches, will be getting to know over the course of the next two years.
Positions: linebacker, safety and running back are all possibilities. Regardless of what positions Denny played to date, this young man possesses more than just natural physical tools to be defined by one position. Denny’s film showed a football player with the propensity to read plays quickly.
His instincts helped him recover and return three fumbles for touchdowns. That’s excellent for a high school career, let alone a mere sophomore. Denny is physical and possesses natural power through his hips, so the Sumner coaching staff placed him at linebacker last fall. No reason to believe that will change moving forward, but he does at least have the feet to play a hybrid linebacker role and be aligned over the slot moving forward.
Additionally, Denny could play strong safety in the right defense, high school or college. The scheme would be the key to that discussion. Offensively, Denny also presents a unique player.
At 6-0, 210-pounds, Denny is a downhill power runner that’s not just a between-the-tackles running back. Yes, he can pound a defense with his size and strength, but he’s also talented enough to make a defender miss and reach the exterior of the defense and race down the sidelines.
Football Attributes: Combining Denny’s raw skill and his football IQ allowed him to “scrape” off offensive linemen last fall on the way to running backs. Denny used his quickness and his hands to defeat blocks. Keeping a low base, Denny would attack one shoulder or the other of an offensive lineman, then move past him with quick hands, balance and power.
Turning to the offensive side of the football, two particular areas catch one’s attention. Denny’s feet are not just North-South. He will use a jump cut, change his pace, or simply power through a tackler with raw power. Again, this is a smart football player. It serves him well.
Long-Term Projection: USF just offered Denny and it’s not hard to see why. Denny is a player that’s still learning the game of football, but he’s far ahead of most young players. With Denny’s all-around skills allowing him to use power, quickness and speed, it’s hard to project him at just one position. With that stated, there’s another factor to consider.
Intelligence. Being smart enough to read an offensive formation and its tendencies is something that an inside linebacker needs to do for himself, as well as help his teammates. Denny already showed the instincts to find the football quickly. That’s why there’s a really good chance this young man is recruited to play inside linebacker at the college level.
College offenses are very hard to stop with so many different passing schemes. One of the reasons would be teams taking advantage of linebackers in coverage. Denny could help a college program with that issue in man-to-man coverage or zone coverage, and he could help to make sure his teammates are lined up properly as well.
Overall, Denny is a player with a tremendous amount of upside. He’s already off to a good start for Sumner High School, and he’s one of the top class of 2023 players to watch in the greater Tampa Bay area.