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Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton granted fifth year of eligibility, will return for Aggies in 2015

Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton received a medical hardship and will return for the Aggies in 2015, the school announced Friday.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Keeton was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the Mountain West Conference and the NCAA after his 2014 season ended early when he injured his left knee against Wake Forest on Sept. 13.

It was the second straight season Keeton had cut short by a knee injury. He tore his MCL and ACL in his left knee against BYU in 2013, then suffered a similar injury against the Demon Deacons last year.

The Aggie quarterback turned to Twitter to announce his return, saying he'll "definitely have to make the most of it."

Keeton, who will have a second chance at his senior season, had thrown for 5,961 yards, 56 touchdowns and 13 interceptions prior to the 2014 season. Last year in three games, he threw for 426 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions before the season-ending injury.

The dual-threat quarterback has also rushed for 1,234 yards and 15 touchdowns in his Aggie career, which kicked off when he started as a true freshman in 2011.

Keeton's best season as an Aggie came as a sophomore in 2012, when he passed for 3,373 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while also rushing for 619 yards and eight touchdowns. That year helped build hype for Keeton as a dark horse Heisman candidate. It's also the only season that hasn't been affected by an injury for Keeton.

Utah State will open spring camp on March 16 and conclude spring practice with the annual Blue-White Spring Game on April 2. The Aggies will be breaking in first-year offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who joins the team after spending the past nine years on Oklahoma's coaching staff.

Keeton's return means the Aggies will have three quarterbacks on their roster — including junior Darell Garretson and sophomore Kent Myers — who have won bowl games.

Garretson, as a freshman, took over for Keeton in 2013 and led Utah State to victories in six of its final seven games that year, including a win over Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl. Garretson started seven games that season and threw for 1,446 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Myers played in seven games during the 2014 season, after Keeton, Garretson and Craig Harrison went down with injuries. He threw for 866 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while also rushing for 310 yards and five touchdowns. In the Aggies' 21-6 New Mexico Bowl win over UTEP, Myers rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd