The first segment in this series is devoted to the relationship Keffer had with roommate, friend and teammate Nakia Greer. Greer and McGee both came into the program together and became fast friends. Sadly, Greer was the first Bulldog to hear the tragic news.
SR: Nakia, when did you first come to know Keffer?
NG: We came in together as freshmen in 1993. That was the first time I met him. I didn’t know who he was before then.
SR: Did you two choose to room together or did it just kind of work out that way?
NG: The first year we had two different roommates. Then my roommate left and they put us together.
SR: Were you all very close before you roomed together?
NG: Well, you know how it is. All of the guys who play the same position they hang out together. That’s basically what we did.
SR: What kind of friend was he?
NG: Oh, man. As the years went on he became like a little brother to me (laughs). I figured it was my job to take care of him on the field and off the field.
SR: What kind of things did Keffer like to do?
NG: He talked about the game plan all the time. We would be at the house and we would talk about what he sees and what I see and just put the two together. We didn’t just go on what the coaches said. We used to get together on the sidelines and he would say, “I see this or I see that and let’s do this.” And I told him if that’s what he wanted done that’s what we’re going to do. It worked out for us.
SR: In 1995, Keffer had over 1,000 yards and in 1996 he was 1st in the SEC and 3rd in the nation at the time of his injury. What was the biggest difference between the two seasons?
NG: Just maturity (laughs). As freshmen we didn’t get that many reps. We only really got to play when the other guys got tired. That one year we had the chance to get some playing time we kind of grew up fast.
SR: Now he suffered a season ending injury against South Carolina that season. How did he handle the adversity?
NG: I don’t know what it did to him, but it did a lot to me to see him laying out there on the field. I walked over to him and they moved his leg and it didn’t look good to me. I had to let him know right then, “Man, it don’t look too good” (laughs).
SR: What was his reaction?
NG: He just looked up at me and smiled.
SR: How was the rest of the season for him? Things started out so well and then he had to watch from the sidelines.
NG: It was kind of hard on him to sit at home when we were leaving out every Friday. I think he took it good though, because he never complained about it. He always used to give us pointers when we got back home. He would ask us, “Man why didn’t you do this or do that?” (laughs)
SR: What did it do to you to leave him sitting at home, while you went out to fight for a winning season?
NG: It was hard for me to make the adjustment from Keffer to Robert Isaac and Tony Buckhalter. Like I said, Keffer and I had that little connection. If he wanted this I would do that. If I did this he would react to that. With Robert and Buck it took a little while for us to think like that.
SR: That next spring and summer how was he recovering from the injury?
NG: He still had a little limp, but he was running full speed. He got the chance to get in there and run some plays and catch some passes.
SR: I know we all remember where we were when we got the news, where were you?
NG: I was at the apartment and some lady called and said I needed to go to the hospital because Keffer had an accident. I was thinking that he hurt his knee again. The hospital was not far from where we stayed, so I got in the car and went on down there. I sat in the waiting room for thirty to forty five minutes and no one would tell me anything.
SR: Now at this point, who all was there?
NG: At that time there was nobody, but me. They didn’t even know who he was. A lady in the emergency room asked me who I was waiting on and I told her my friend had an accident in the swimming pool. She told me that when they brought him in they were working on him. I went up to the desk and she asked me who I was and if I knew anybody in his immediate family. They still wouldn’t tell me anything. I still didn’t know what was going on. It could have been anything. I had no idea it was what it was.
SR: Imagine the ride home was extremely difficult.
NG: I didn’t go back home. I went with Dennis McKinley and Chris Rainey back to their apartment. That was a very tough time for me.
SR: Didn’t you all start two-a-days the next day or so?
NG: That was really hard. I figured if I shut down then the whole team would shut down. I decided it was better for me to go out and work hard and do what I had to do. The tough part was at the end of each day I had to go back to that same old……
SR: Did the other players look to you for guidance or comfort?
NG: No, they comforted me. Being out there with them helped me deal with the situation. Keffer was loved by all of the teammates. We all were going through the same thing. The only difference was that I was living with him, that was the only difference.
SR: I have been told that he did not have an enemy in the world.
NG: No SIR! Not one.
SR: Now he was an All-SEC academic student for three years.
NG: He was wonderful (laughs). He did things I couldn’t do (laughs). He had already graduated and was working on his Masters.
SR: In 1997, you all broke through with a nice season. Was it therapeutic at all to get back on the winning side of things?
NG: It didn’t help. It didn’t help. I guess I was just going through the motions week after week and when the season was over I just headed out of town.
SR: In 1998, they decided to dedicate the season to Keffer. What did that mean to you?
NG: It meant that they remembered him. Most of the time when athletes move on people forget.
SR: One of the things I remember about that year was J.J. Johnson, who didn’t know Keffer well, flashed the “2-1” with his hand every time he scored.
NG: They just had met. Everyone loved Keffer.
SR: The 1998 team of course made it to Atlanta and I remember Coach Sherrill saying that “We will never let Keffer down.” Did they keep that promise?
NG: Yes, they did. They went out there and played their best. One play determined the outcome of that whole game, but you can’t count that against them. They went out there and gave their best.
SR: I would imagine you and your teammates still have a special bond. Do you stay in touch with many of the guys?
NG: Oh, yeah. I still talk to Dennis, Chris Rainey, most of the running backs. “Little Daddy” K.P., Kevin Prentiss. You know he is up here in Memphis playing with the Explorers. I saw him a couple of weeks ago and we talked. He is still amazing.
SR: So what keeps you busy these days?
NG: Well, I stay busy with my son. He plays baseball, football and all of that stuff, so I have to go out there and try to coach him up a little bit.
SR: What’s your son’s name?
NG: We named him Joshua Keffer Greer, but most people just call him Keffer.
Nakia and his wife reside in Mississippi and have two children. Nakia is presently working on breaking into the music business as a songwriter. He says that he thinks about Keffer every single day and he tries to handle himself in a way that would make Keffer proud.
Steve Robertson is a staff member of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.