FAMU lineman on season opener against Jackson State: 'We're ready for all competition'

Rashad Milligan
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Keenan Forbes is a Florida native through and through.

The Florida A&M offensive lineman grew up in Miami, less than a mile away from where he'll begin his graduate transfer season at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 5 (2 p.m., ESPN2) against Jackson State in the Orange Blossom Classic.

"Been working hard, night and day, watching film and getting in the playbook," Forbes said at SWAC Media Day in Birmingham, Alabama.

On the other sideline will be former Florida State star  and Jackson State coach Deion Sanders.

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"Nah, I won't be starstruck," Forbes said. "We're all humans at the end of the day."

While he joked he wasn't a fan of Florida State, Forbes is aware of the history behind the JSU coach, who was widely regarded as one of the best athletes for not only Florida natives, but for his generation as an NFL star and a Major League Baseball player. 

"I'm glad he's a Florida guy, but you know, I was never a Seminole fan," Forbes said before laughing. "Nah, let me stop playing, though. He's great. Deion's the truth."

FAMU will be the first team to see Sanders' first full recruiting class at Jackson State, which is the highest-rated in program history. Forbes, specifically, has to hold off a defensive rush featuring the combination of former Tennessee walk-on edge rusher Nyles Gaddy, preseason all-conference linebackers Keonte Hampton and Aubrey Miller Jr. 

Forbes, who transferred from Washington State, said FAMU has scouted JSU this summer, and the team understands the Tigers will feature a few key defensive players who weren't eligible in the spring season. Despite transferring to Jackson State in fall 2020, many players weren't eligible in the spring because they played  games in the fall for other teams.

"We're ready for all competition," Forbes said. "I feel like we are one of the best, or are the best offensive line in all of college football, so we're ready for it."

FAMU and Bethune-Cookman are the two newcomers to the SWAC this season. The two colleges were previously members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Both have joined the East Division with Jackson State.

"We've got a chip on our shoulder," Forbes said. "We're the new guys on the block, so we're trying to win it all first year. Get it rolling."

Contact Rashad Milligan at 601-862-6198 or Jmilligan@gannett.com. Follow @RashadMilligan on Twitter.