It is a music video game introduced in Japan 16 years ago, where players stand on a platform or stage and hit colored arrows with their feet to musical and visual cues.
Players are judged by how well they time a dance to those patterns presented them and are then allowed to choose additional music if they receive a passing score.
Dance Dance Revolution.
The series that helped produce one of college football’s most exciting players.
“I was good at it. I was really good,” Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton said Tuesday at Mountain West media days at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
He will walk down the center of a mall now and juke unsuspecting folks outside Foot Locker or just beyond Radio Shack. Not old ladies. That would just be weird and perhaps lead to grandma falling and hurting herself and the authorities being called.
Instead, teammates. Friends. Maybe a burly guy or two who wouldn’t be shocked into tripping.
He also will head to the kitchen for something to eat and sidestep a couch before cutting off the edge of a coffee table.
Anything to feel whole again, to remember what makes him magical on a football field.
It was a different sort of pain. He didn’t feel anything pop. Just a really fierce stretch.
He was trying to gain an extra yard or two on that play Oct. 4, trying to deliver another first down against Brigham Young, and instead tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. His knee never stood a chance.
Keeton is back now, hoping it’s true that difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body, intent on translating months of rehabilitation back to the dynamic presence his skills have offered as Utah State’s quarterback.
All you need to know: Keeton on Tuesday was named the Mountain West’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year, despite the fact he missed his team’s final eight games last season after being injured. His talent is that admired, his potential for greatness that expected.
Fear is now the biggest hurdle for a player who has thrown for almost 6,000 career yards and rushed for 1,153. Fear of taking that first hit, of making that initial cut in the open field, hoping the knee holds up through both. He has accounted for 70 touchdowns and broke onto the national scene in his first collegiate start, when Keeton as a freshman led the Aggies to a near-road upset of Auburn.
You saw it that day. The country saw it. He was something in the 42-38 loss, then good enough in the next 2½ seasons that most now begin their list of comparisons to him with former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“I hope they mean the good parts, but the man won a Heisman Trophy, so he must have been doing something right,” Keeton said. “I just try to stay me. Be me.”
This is him: Utah State has begun a Chuckie4Heisman campaign, something the senior reluctantly agreed to so the program might receive national recognition from it.
He didn’t want the attention, but understood how important it could be for his team.
If he played at Alabama or Ohio State or UCLA or Oklahoma or fill-in-your-power-conference-team-of-choice here, Keeton would be among those expected to contend for the college game’s most coveted award. He might even be considered the favorite. He’s that good when healthy.
He is, like most quarterbacks blessed with incredibly gifted feet, still learning that the error of his ways is often not accepting the notion that scampering out of bounds or sliding into an oncoming linebacker will eventually prove a more beneficial decision than trying to gain that extra yard or two.
“You’re not going to put the reins on a kid with his God-given ability,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “He’s tough-minded. Very passionate. Very competitive. Very smart. He has the mindset and makeup to be an elite quarterback. He has also become much smarter about when to go down or check down.
“I know this: The injury did not hurt his mind, and it did not hurt his arm. His arm is a weapon, and his mind is a tremendous weapon that is vastly underrated.”
Utah State is picked second to Boise State in the Mountain Division, predictable when you consider the last time any of the other five divisional teams beat the Broncos was 1997. But it’s also true the Aggies went 6-2 without Keeton last season and won the Poinsettia Bowl.
Now, he’s back, juking teammates at the mall and faking out chairs and tables in his apartment.
He has a hop in his step, a sparkle of confidence in his eyes.
He’s more than ready for a round or two of Dance Dance Revolution.
“I have never played that game, and I won’t play it against him,” Utah State linebacker Zach Vigil said. “I expect he’d be very good at it. Quick feet. Makes sense.
“The biggest thing I took from Chuckie’s injury is that he was still always there for us, in the locker room as a leader. When you get hurt like that, guys sometimes shy away or become reclusive. Not him. It showed the kind of character he has. The program is bigger than any one player, as great as Chuckie is. We proved we could win games without him, which showed how resilient our team is. But now that he’s back, we have to continue that mindset and culture of (winning).
“But the (juking of teammates at the mall) does get a little annoying.”
Maybe he could do it to grandma. Just once.
That would be priceless.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.