Keller's Play is Back to Old Form

His confidence was never shaken following his thumb injury. However, after being sidelined for four games in 2005, Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller was still anxious to prove that he hasn't lost a step. As spring practice nears to a close, the Sun Devil signal caller is happy to have overcome the stiff quarterback competition and the various challenges that accompany a comeback from injury.

On Thursday, the next to last practice in this spring session, Sam Keller felt that he and the maroon and gold have accomplished all the goals put forward. "I'm happy. We got plenty good work in." he said. "I think it was overall a successful spring for the team, and a successful spring for me getting the pads out and feeling what it's like to play football again."

Some may say that the 15 spring practices carried the most importance to the ASU quarterback, compared to any other player. Keller agrees wholeheartedly with that notion. "Absolutely, it (spring practice) was crucial for me to see where I'm at physically and mentally," he admitted. "Everything came real fast with no problems. I'm pleased, I feel strong as I ever been…it's a good feeling."

While no one desires to be forced out of action due to an injury, there are vital lessons to be learned from the sidelines, not to talk about the increased feeling of hunger and desire to succeed. "You learn a lot about yourself," explained Keller. "It wasn't an easy thing to go through mentally. I'm just happy that I still have my confidence, because a lot of people thought my confidence would take a hit. Everybody was talking about Rudy (Carpenter), how good he did, and if he was gonna take my job, and I guess that's the way it's gonna be. But my confidence was never shaken - it never went anywhere."

Keller commented that what some call quarterback controversy, he calls quarterback competition, and it's that battle that has fueled an already motivated personality to excel even more. "I can't wait to play on the field, and that's what it's all about," he said. "Anything that stands in the way of that, I see it as a challenge. I'm glad that I came out here in spring ball and didn't let things affect me negatively. Just getting through it, doing well, and having fun…that's what it's all about."

Keller acknowledged that he and Carpenter aren't close friends off the field, and that the type of relationship both of them have doesn't impact the contest between them for the starting quarterback job. "We have different type of lifestyles and we don't hang out together, but there's a lot of people I don't hang out with," stated Keller. "I only hang out with a few people. But I'm his friend, and I'll always be his friend. I talk a lot to him out here (on the field). The competition is just competition, and it doesn't matter if you're good friends or not. Only one guy is gonna start and the competition is gonna be that way no matter what. Whoever is gonna do the better job will play."

This year's spring practice, marked the fist time Keller and the rest of the signal callers were under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Roy Wittke. Keller told Devils Digest that he has enjoyed the experience with his new skipper. "It's going good," he acknowledged. "He's doing a great job and we'll have a great relationship. He's a very sharp guy and that's why Coach Koetter hired him. He's a sharp guy himself and he knows a sharp guy when he sees one."

On the other hand, it would be hard to describe the play of the wide receiver group as sharp. Keller believes that it's a direct byproduct of their inexperience. "In this offense you have to have consistent wideouts, because there's a lot of stuff put on them," he explained. "We have a lot of schemes to learn, a lot of stuff to throw defenses off. As a quarterback you rely on those guys to be consistent. When you're young and you don't have game experience, you end up thinking a lot instead of just reacting. When you think about it too much, you end up being a step or two slow and making mistakes. But they're gonna continue to get better, I'm patient and we're just gonna chip away at it."

In contrast, the rehab of Sam Keller and his post-injury play have gone smoothly. He agrees with the assertion that his play in the spring can provide a successful springboard to the summer and camp Tontozona. And judging by his play the last few weeks, this isn't just his confidence speaking…

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