Our future Heisman winner right here.
Published Saturday | February 24, 2007
NU Football: Keller staying patient
BY RICH KAIPUST
LINCOLN - In the latter stages of a Midwestern winter, coming on the heels of a trying fall, the misconception with Sam Keller would be that the Nebraska quarterback is in this great hurry for the calendar to read Sept. 1 and for him to be running through the Memorial Stadium tunnel to play Nevada.
Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller said it's going to take some time to soak in the NU offense. "It's months of work and I'm glad I've got those months," he said.With that moment still more than six months away, Keller comes across in a more patient manner than expected.
There's a football team he needs to get to know better. A starting job he has to win. And, most importantly, an offense he still needs to master.
"It's months of work and I'm glad I've got those months," Keller said. "Don't get me wrong - I'm looking forward to playing, I can't wait to get back in the saddle. But the more time I have to master it the better, because it doesn't just happen overnight."
Keller is a veteran of three college seasons. Had he stayed for a fourth at Arizona State - and not transferred to Nebraska - he likely would be spending this weekend at the NFL Combine and preparing for the April draft. Instead, he hasn't played since October of 2005.
It would be easy to see why the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder from Danville, Calif., easily could be getting impatient. Only Keller refuses to let on that it's the case with him.
"My best weapon will be this offense," he said. "The best I can hone in on this offense, and know exactly what I'm doing every single play, then I think some big things can happen."
Coming off a redshirt season at NU, Keller's time as a Husker will speed up when spring practice starts March 21.
The attention that followed Keller to Nebraska subsided as Zac Taylor guided the Huskers to a Big 12 North title and 9-5 season in 2006. Keller kept a low profile. An interview session Friday was his first in six months.
That will all change before long as Keller becomes one of the main storylines to the 2007 season.
"It's just been a tumultuous time for him," said Mike Keller, his father. "He had to kind of lick his wounds, sit back and swallow his pride. But he did that, and I think that endeared him to his teammates.
"He feels really confident right now, I can hear it in his voice. He didn't feel that way through the whole transition because it was disruptive to the poor guy's life. Everything before had been pretty much in full order."
Before his falling out with ASU, Keller had thrown for 2,165 yards and 20 touchdowns in seven starts in 2005. Before a thumb injury disrupted that junior season, he had burned Louisiana State for 461 yards and four touchdowns, and started against Southern Cal and Oregon.
"I was on fire," Keller said, almost matter-of-factly.
Last fall, he was directing the Nebraska scout-team offense in practice. His only time with the No. 1s came in three practices just after the Big 12 championship game.
Scout-team duty wasn't so bad, actually. It gave him a chance to compete. Reminded him how much he loved playing. It was hardest on game days. Those were always what he lived for at Arizona State.
Junior-to-be Joe Ganz stands in his way of being the No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring practice. Ganz has been little-used the past two seasons, but knows the offense and will handle it at full speed in practice.
"I've got some things I need to do on this practice field right here before maybe fans throw me in there as the anointed one," Keller said. "It takes a lot of hard work in this offense."