ATLANTA -- Brent Key may be the only player on the Georgia Tech football team who would not qualify for the U.S. armed forces, which may seem strange, given that he is a high-caliber Division I athlete.
The senior offensive lineman has asthma, a disqualifier for armed service, and has had it all his life.
"I guess that goes to show you," Keys said. "The armed forces are pretty tough, but it's pretty tough out here, too. People just put tags on those with disabilities or certain conditions."
Not that Key feels disabled. Sometimes his biggest challenge with the asthma is keeping up with his inhaler, which isn't all that difficult with Tech's medical support staff.
Key said the condition -- his is exercise induced -- has never forced him to come out of a game, and it has only caused him problems on long-distance runs. The Tech players start camp with a 12-minute run each year, and Key was one of three players who didn't make it.
"He will, though," said Tech head coach George O'Leary. "You can book that. He just gets winded on long-distance runs."
O'Leary said asthma is not uncommon to have Division I football players, adding that he has had several of them on teams he's coached. Key said former Tech linebacker Matt Uremevich had the condition.
Key said it has been about four years since he's had a full-blown attack, that coming on the 12-minute run before his freshman year.
"I started wheezing and feeling bad," he said. "Then it got harder and harder to keep going. Some of the other players started telling me my lips turned purple. It was scary."
He described the feeling like being deep under water.
"It feels like you've got all that water pressure pressing down on you," he said. "It's like you've got a 100-pound barbell on your chest."
The Jackets finished three days of "installation" practices Wednesday, and tempers flared in the heat. Senior safety Chris Young went off after practice, blasting a couple of freshman for not finishing their conditioning work.
"It was hot out there," said O'Leary, "You're going to have that sometimes. It's part of the game.
O'Leary opted to change the schedule for the rest of the week. Instead of two practices today, the Jackets will work out with weights this morning and hold their first practice in full pads at 3:30 p.m. They'll return to the two-practice format on Friday.
"The big thing is we haven't been in the weight room since Saturday," O'Leary said.
Freshman quarterback Brandon Sumner was not at practice for the third straight day. He left the team Saturday to return to his family's home in Daytona Beach, Fla., where his mother was hospitalized. O'Leary said it was unclear when Sumner would return.
Among the other freshmen, linebacker Daryl Smith caught O'Leary's eye during the first thre days.
"They've all had their moments, but as far as any one of them dominating practice, that's not happening," O'Leary said. "They're going out there against the older kids. The contact will separate them even more."
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