Keith Brigham does not have roots in Tucson and he has lived here only one year previously in 2017.
He is back in Tucson starting his career in sports fitness training after completing a football career that finished at the Division I level at Memphis in the 2019-20 school year.
He had the opportunity to return to Tucson in 2021 after signing with the Tucson Sugar Skulls but opted to not play for the Indoor Football League team.
The reason for his return to Tucson is his 4-year-old daughter Aliyah living here and an opportunity join Bobby Rodriguez’s coaching staff at Jet Sports Training.
“Decided to make a living here in Tucson,” said Brigham, who remains close to his playing size of 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds. “I love Arizona. Why not be here?
“I trained with Bobby at Pro Day back in 2021. I love the energy. I love his story. His story resonates with myself being an underdog. What he has going on here, the influence he has on the community and his goals for the community are similar to myself. We share similar goals. This is a place I need to be. This is a place I can leave an impact also.”
Rodriguez, a standout at Sunnyside who later walked on at Arizona when Mike Stoops was coach, said in a 2021 interview with AllSportsTucson.com about his community focus:
“I don’t have any plans to leave the southside of Tucson. This is where I was born and raised. A lot of people said I was crazy for starting (Jet Sports Training) on the southside. They said I wouldn’t succeed. That’s the worst thing you could tell me, that I can’t do something.”
Brigham’s football odyssey started when he played at Normal (Ill.) Community West High School and took him to Illinois State as a preferred walk-on in 2016. He was selected the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year with the Redbirds.
He came to Pima College in 2017 with former Illinois State teammate DeMarco Corbin, a running back.
In his one season playing for coach Jim Monaco, now Pima’s athletic director, Brigham earned All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) second-team accolades.
He was third on the team with 79 total tackles (33 solo). He led the Aztecs with six sacks and sack yardage (45 yards) and tied for the team lead in tackle-for-loss yardage (55) with 11 such tackles. He logged 12 total tackles in four different games.
Brigham received offers from Division II schools but carried his belief that he could play at the Division I level.
He was one of six Pima players who signed with Division I schools in 2017. The others were receiver LeBronze Allen (Bethune Cookman), Corbin (Tennessee State), defensive back Aaron Maddox (Colorado), linebacker Bryant Pirtle Jr. (Utah) and defensive back Haki Woods (Oregon).
Brigham played in 25 games in his two years of eligibility with Memphis and was part of the Tigers’ 12-2 team in 2019 that went to the Cotton Bowl. Most importantly, he earned a degree in sports management with a 3.0 GPA.
He said he sees himself living in Tucson for the long run.
“I feel like this is an underdog city, almost; there’s a lot of untapped potential that can still thrive,” said Brigham, who primarily works on the physical and mental approach for youth and high school athletes at Jet Sports Training.
“The high school kids, they already had that mindset of what’s working. … A lot of them still ask me about my past, playing college ball. I have a lot of kids ask me, ‘Hey, coach, what can I do to get better?’ – which I love. I light up.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.