football Edit

Gage Keys making fast strides in the weight room, increased speed

Defensive tackle Gage Keys is ready for a fresh start at Kansas after transferring from Minnesota. So far, he’s been impressed with his time, especially in the weight room.

Since he arrived in Lawrence he has seen his body transform under Matt Gildersleeve.

“I came here like 260 in the portal, and then I’ve put on like 30 pounds,” Keys said. “(Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Matt Gildersleeve) and his staff have done a really great job.

"When they first kind of told me they wanted me 285-plus, I didn’t really know how that was going to go personally because I’ve never been able to get there. I’ve never had a nutrition program that’s put me in position to gain that weight and maintain it throughout spring ball and fall camp.”

Keys cited that Italian food has been helpful to his bulking process. Even with all of the weight Keys has been able to put on, he is confident that he hasn’t lost a step as a result.

“I’m running 20 miles per hour, I’m staying fast,” Keys said. “I’m faster than I was when I entered the portal I think I’m more explosive too. Sleeve and his staff have done an outstanding job.”

Keys has added over 30 pounds since he arrived at KU and increased his speed
Keys has added over 30 pounds since he arrived at KU and increased his speed

Making the progress he’s made in the weight room came easier than expected for Keys. He was made to feel welcome almost immediately upon arrival in Lawrence.

“It was a really easy transition, they kind of laid down the groundwork for core values that we have here and being able to talk to them and learn about that has helped me be able to get acclimated to the workouts,” Keys said.

Outside of the weight room, Kansas had an immediate advantage when Keys hit the portal last December. Defensive tackles coach Jim Panagos was the lead recruiter for him when he signed at Minnesota.

“It really came down to our relationship,” Keys said. “Me and him have had a strong relationship since my high school recruitment. We kind of just went back to that, how much we trust each other and he just laid down the foundation for how we play defense here.”

Even though the pair are close, there still seems to be a strong sense of expectations that they have for each other as Keys buys into a new system.

“He’s on me hard,” Keys said. “Which is a good thing. I ask him for that.”

While Panagos helped him get his foot in the door, Keys has felt welcomed throughout the program.

“Everyone here accepted me with a lot of love,” Keys said. “It was an easy acclimation process. I was surprised when I got here and the transition was easier than I expected.”

The coaches have stood out the most to Keys. He’s been most impressed with their unselfishness throughout his time at Kansas.

“The level of care that the coaches have for us they don’t make it about themselves,” Keys said. “They do a really good job of making sure everything they do is for us and just being very respectful of the players.”

Keys still has four years of eligibility remaining with three to play after entering the 2023 season after appearing in eight games for Minnesota last season. He has some lofty goals he wants to accomplish before his time at Kansas is done.

“I have really high goals for myself,” Keys said. “I want to be an all-American, I want to be the best defensive tackle in the country. I set my expectations high because I know I can achieve them. I have a high ceiling, it’s just about fixing the details.”