Kentucky was the first school to offer the Wade twins a football scholarship and that’s where they ended up committing.
Summit’s Destin and Keaten Wade announced their decision in mid-April.
Keaten (6-4, 225) had 25 offers and Destin (6-3, 208) received 18.
“That was a big deal: they were the first to offer us, the first to believe in us and then they just kept on having that family feel while talking to us,” Destin said of the offers that came in the fall of 2019.
Tennessee, Louisville and Virginia were also in the juniors’ final four.
The twins have been teammates in multiple sports since they were 5 years old so it was important to them to remain together.
“We always wanted to play together ever since we were little so that was a dream of ours,” said Destin, a quarterback who led the Spartans to their first state title in December.
The twins’ older brother, Jalen, played running back and linebacker at Independence before moving on to Navy.
“He made a real good point to them that if they chose a college that was significantly far away that they weren’t going to have the opportunity for anybody from the community that they’re in now to participate in their experience at the next level because nobody is going to go six to eight to 10 hours away to watch you play,” said Valerie Wade, their mother. “He said don’t underestimate how nice that is to occasionally or regularly see a face from your hometown come support you.”
Jalen is now a captain in the Marines.
Destin believes Kentucky’s offensive scheme will be a good fit for him.
“They just got a new offensive coordinator so he brings a lot of NFL passing opportunities,” Destin said of Liam Coen, the former Los Angeles Rams assistant quarterbacks coach. “It’s based on the quarterback and what he’s good at and what he’s not, basically. It’s just a lot of progression throws and stuff like that.”
Summit (14-1) won the Class 5A championship with a 28-7 victory over Oak Ridge after taking second in the state the previous season.
“That year when we came in second it was heartbreaking really because we wanted to do it for our seniors, too, and just getting that close and not being able to win that state championship really hurt,” Destin said. “So we focused the next year and (put in) a lot of hard work, and it really paid off.”
Winning the school’s first state title was a special moment for the twins.
“That’s going to be a mark that will stay there forever so that’s great,” said Destin, who led the way with 1,390 passing yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions in 2020. He also rushed for 1,509 yards and 18 TDs.
Four of the Spartans’ regular-season wins were COVID-19 forfeits, but Summit avoided the deadly virus for the most part.
“We didn’t have a lot of scares because our coaching staff and the teachers in the whole school did a great job of social distancing and having our masks up and stuff like that,” Destin said. “Our coaches really wanted us to be in the corners of the classrooms so we went there.”
Destin’s most memorable play of the season was his 8-yard TD run up the middle with 22 seconds left that rallied Summit to a 40-34 win at Independence in the opener.
A cramp forced him out of the final drive for two plays before he returned to score a TD that ignited the Spartans’ title drive.
He passed for 257 yards and four TDs and rushed for 249 and two TDs that night, giving Summit its only lead in the final moments.
“His best game was probably the Beech game and we just went on from there,” Spartans coach Brian Coleman said. “Some of Destin’s throws were unreal. He really put the ball on the money to a bunch of different receivers.”
Destin passed for four TDs and 218 yards in Summit’s 36-29 quarterfinal win at Beech.
The Mr. Football finalist also rushed for 194 yards and one TD, accounting for all the Spartans’ scores.
Destin hit Caleb Jolley with a 9-yard TD pass with 27 seconds left to win the game.
“He can run it and he can throw it,” Coleman said.
The twins will face a tough challenge next season when the Spartans move up to newly formed Class 7A in a region with several Williamson County powers.
Destin is working on improving his accuracy, developing a quicker release, his footwork and speed.
Keaten missed most of the season with a fractured left foot.
“It was pretty frustrating having it come three days before the first game, but I just stuck with it, trusted God and cheered on my team while they played big games,” Keaten said. “I feel back to 100% almost. I was looking forward to last season and I feel like I’ve got to show out even more to show what I can really do next season.”
Keaten is an outside linebacker/defensive end who had 103 tackles, including 10 sacks, during his sophomore year in 2019.
His athleticism and pass-rushing skills made him appealing to college coaches.
“Just limiting the space, being quicker than (the offensive linemen), anticipating their moves and being smart,” Keaten said when asked about the keys to pass rushing.
Keaten rushed for 1,258 yards and 18 TDs in 2019.
“(Destin and I) just have great chemistry together and I just feel like it will be fun at the next level,” Keaten said.
Kentucky’s 3-4 defense is like Summit’s, so the Wildcats should be a good fit for Keaten.
“They’ll move me around,” Keaten said. “I can play out in space sometimes, but I think mostly I’ll be on the end.”
Keaten is a hybrid athlete who is big enough to play defensive end and agile enough to play coverage at outside linebacker.
He played only one game for Summit in basketball last season due to his foot injury.
Destin averaged 16 points in 13 games as a wing, including a season-high 30 points in a win over Dickson County.
“If both Destin and Keaten had played, it would have made a huge difference in our season,” Spartans coach Jim Fey said “As it was, we lost enough players at various times that we spent the whole season trying to get the next man up ready.”
The Wades are probably fraternal twins, but they look alike so it was hard for a lot of people to tell them apart before Keaten got a shorter haircut.
“We’re both laid back, sometimes goofy, focused when we need to, but we’re just chill all around,” Destin said.
Their noses are a little different and Destin has two freckles on his forehead. Destin was born first.
“From the time they were little, they had some sort of ball in their hands,” Valerie said.
The twins also played T-ball, baseball and soccer as youngsters.
“Boy, they were mischievous when they were young,” Valerie said. “They never slept and always had an abundance of energy. We pretty much walked around in a zombie-like state for the first two or three years of their life.”
She believes their laid-back personalities help them handle pressure in sports.
“If I was in situations that they’ve been in under the sports pressure, I’d collapse and melt on the field and they’d have to take me away because I couldn’t handle it,” Valerie said. “But they just seem to love it. It does not seem to affect them at all. I always ask them, ‘Were you nervous?’ And they go, ‘No, not really.’ ”
Valerie is happy her twin sons will remain together at Kentucky.
“They’re just so close. Honestly, I can’t imagine them really being apart,” Valerie said. “And they rely on each other a lot, so I’m glad that they’re going to be able to continue that at the next level.”