It’s 2013. You’re Nick Saban, and your defense just spent two years in a row getting victimized by a 6’6” Mike Evans and Johnny Manziel on a high-flying Texas A&M offense. What do you do? You go out and try to get one yourself.
The 2014 recruiting class featured two massive receivers in Cam Sims and Derek Kief. Sims graduated last year, but Kief redshirted as a freshman and was a senior in 2018. A rare recruit out of Ohio, Kief was the 33rd overall receiver and #216 in the nation. He redshirted his first year, then got onto the field sparingly in 2015— mostly on special teams.
That never really changed over the next three seasons. He was a regular special teams contributor and often one of the first receivers in on mop-up duty, but never part of the regular rotation. He drew praise during the offseason a couple of times for his “craftiness” in route running, especially for someone his size. He also made a name for himself with his blocking, and has often been seen out wide when one of his mates is catching a screen pass.
In 2017, he caught his first touchdown pass in a rout of Mercer, and it was a beauty in the corner of the endzone.
It was the first time we really got a taste of the towering redzone threat that he was signed to be.
In 2018, he had another toe-tapper in a blowout of Arkansas State that was equally as impressive.
We didn’t see much more from him after that, but he was always around, providing key depth and working special teams. It wasn’t a glorious career, but it was an important one nonetheless. Us TV watchers never see all the prep that goes on behind the scenes, and how much Derek Kief really contributed to this program over the last five years.
For that, Derek, we salute you. Roll Tide!