Introducing The 2003 Class: Sam Keller

During the course of the off-season, DevilsDigest will conduct a series of interviews with the newest members of ASU's Football team. Our next story in this series features Sam Keller. The heralded quarterback sets the record straight about his de-commitment from Michigan and his journey to becoming the most surprising addition to the current Sun Devil recruiting class. Keller also talks about playing with fellow acclaimed quarterback Mike Affleck, who is a fellow member of the 2003 class.

The signal caller from Danville, CA had ASU on his recruiting radar several months ago. However, the Sun Devils and other colleges pursuing the San Ramon Valley High School star backed off when he committed to Michigan. "My whole life I grew up a fan of Michigan." Says Keller, "My father was an All-American on that team, and he has a lot of relatives back there. When I came to camps in Michigan, I never thought I would go there, and I just enjoyed myself for the short time I was there. When I started looking where I would go to college, Michigan was a priority because I loved it for so long."

Nevertheless, Keller admits that when he made his commitment to the Wolverines, it was all for the wrong reasons. "I thought it was the best place for me. I loved it growing up, and I wanted to make my dad proud. But I never thought whether I would be happy there. It came down to the fact that I didn't want to live in Michigan. I didn't want to go that far away, and didn't want to be in that weather. I wanted to go somewhere where I would be happy and comfortable. If I'm not happy and comfortable, I can't put all my focus on the Football field."

Keller, was born in Detroit, took the opportunity in our conversation to dispel some rumors that surfaced in connection to his decision not to sign with Michigan. For starters, he categorically denies anything negative happening on his official visit to Ann Arbor. "It wasn't necessary anything Michigan did. They did a great job on the visit. They are classy people. They didn't do anything wrong…It was a bad visit because I realized that's not where I want to be. I was there by myself for the first time, and I was thinking ‘this is where I'm gonna live. Do I really wanna be there'?"

Contrary to poplar belief, ex-Wolverine father Mike Keller didn't actively sway his son to make the commitment to his alma mater. If anything else, the incoming ASU freshman appreciates all the help he received from his dad. "There was no pressure at all from him to go to Michigan. In the beginning I did because I thought I was suppose to go there, and I wanted to make him proud. But he never pressured me. He's been my biggest supporter in this whole situation."

Keller, who threw for 7,388 career yards and 80 touchdowns in his storied high school career, recalls his state of mind between his official visit to Ann Arbor and his trip to Tempe. "It took me a long time to decide that Michigan wasn't for me. Those feelings just wouldn't go away, but I thought that everything would work out and I would stop feeling this way. Finally, after nothing changed two months after the visit, I approached my dad to see what we could do. So we started to see where I could go, and it came down to schools that were interested in me in the beginning – ASU, USC, and Oregon. Those are the ones that I wanted to go after."

SuperPrep's 25th best quarterback in the nation told us that he always had a strong affinity to the Sun Devils, and he enjoyed watching them on TV this past season. "During the whole recruiting process, in the back of mind I was thinking about all those schools that recruited me. I just liked ASU all the time. Everybody likes watching their offense. When I was watching their games I was pulling for them because I liked them the whole time." Needless to say that these feelings caused the Kellers to call up the ASU coaches who according to Sam were "caught off-guard" by the unexpected interest Keller showed just a couple of weeks before letter of intent day.

The mutual feelings of joy on both sides were initially tempered a bit. "With Arizona State things looked kinda dimmed" says Keller, "Because they had a bunch of quarterbacks coming back, and a new recruit (Affleck) coming in. But then Andy Goodenough transferred, and suddenly a spot opened up." This turn in events warranted a trip to the valley of the sun. Although Keller was also considering the Trojans and Ducks at this point, those two teams were eliminated from consideration when he decided to visit ASU. "I kinda of excluded Oregon from the mix. USC said they weren't gonna take a quarterback this year. I've been to camps at Oregon and USC. Those places weren't a mystery to me. The only place I haven't been is ASU."

Once Keller did make this most anticipated visit to the valley of the sun, he was very pleased with what he saw and heard. "The way the coaches accepted my situation was just great. They were very understanding, and it meant a lot to me that they were keeping my visit under the radar. I went and hung out with Andrew Walter and that was real cool. I just talked to him about the coaches and the offense, and my situation. At this point I wasn't sure if I was going to Arizona State, and he told me that whatever I do I should do it because I want to, and not for anyone else." ASU's state of the art facilities impressed Keller, as they have virtually every recruit that has set foot in the Athletic Administration building. "Everything looks like it's on the rise, and it really is. It's a place that is going up…It's real exciting." There was one pleasant surprise during this trip and that was ASU's academics. "My dad thought that ASU wasn't as good academically as the other schools, but we found out on our visit that it really was. Once that was proven, my dad was a big supporter. I loved talking to the different academic advisors and professors. (Assistant AD) Jean Boyd was awesome to talk to."

Once word got out that Keller, who played in the prestigious California/Florida All-Star football game, verbaled to the Sun Devils, fans wondered what Mike Affleck who committed a while back to ASU would do. After some days of uncertainty Affleck decided to honor his original commitment, and Keller couldn't be happier. In a previous interview to Devils Digest he said: "I really hope I'm not ruining his (Affleck's) relationship with the school, and not imposing on him. I never met him and he seems like a nice guy. I never wanted him to think that he had to leave because I was coming to ASU. Obviously he feels confident and he stuck with ASU so that's good." Keller added that he hasn't talked to him yet, but does look forward to meeting Affleck in Tempe this summer."

In his 13 games during his senior season, Keller completed 210 out of 333 passes for 3,282 yards and 38 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Despite those gaudy statistics he's extremely humble when self-assessing his skills. "I'm always working on getting quicker and faster (runs a 4.84 40-yard dash.) You can never get too good at reading defenses. I'm a student of the game, and I know that you can never learn too much from other people. I'm never gonna say that I reached my potential; As far as my strengths go, I don't really pay attention but people say that I'm accurate both short and long. Arm strength has never been a problem for me. I can get it wherever it needs to be. In the game your arm gets stronger because of adrenalin. There's no throw that I can't make. Not one throw…"

The first-team all East Bay Athletic League quarterback plans to attend some of ASU's spring practice, but isn't over anxious to bid farewell to his high school days. "I'm gonna enjoy my last few months of high school so much (smile). It's gonna be a blast. You have to take advantage of it. You're only gonna be a high school senior once." Keller did tell us that he plans to come to the valley in July, and participate in the team's weight and conditioning program. He added that he really has no expectations as to whether he will redshirt or not. "Whatever happens happens. I'm not gonna assume anything. I'm just gonna do what I do best and that's play hard, and the chips will fall wherever they may. I won't be disappointed if I redshirt. I'm all for what's best for the team and best for me." Granted, Sam Keller is stepping into a very competitive situation, but when listening to him you get the feeling he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. "If there's apprehension you're already dead before you even step out there. In Division I there's always gonna be a guy in front of you or chasing you and he'll be just as good as you are. They'll be competition wherever you go - that's just the way it is. There's no apprehension on my part. I'm just gonna go and do the best I can."

Thanks to Sam Keller's de-commitment, what was suppose to be an uneventful recruiting season for him turned into a journey full of soul searching and anxiety over what could be a life altering decision. At the end of the day, this quarterback couldn't have been happier. "I'm very fortunate to have an opportunity to play at ASU after decommiting this late in the game." Timing is everything, and who better to know that than a quarterback…

Recruit Profile


Sam Keller

High School

San Ramon Valley (Danville, CA)







Date of Birth



Detroit, MI


Never got one

Favorite TV Show


Favorite Movie

Top Gun

Favorite Singer


Favorite Food


Favorite Drink


Favorite Athlete

Bret Favre

Favorite Pro Team

Oakland Raiders

Person you most admire

Michael Jordan. He's 40 years old and he's just as much as competitor as he was growing up. That's what I am. Just like him I respect the game, value it, and love to compete.

First Football Memory

I had to lose 25 pounds to play Pee-Wee Football. I was a big kid (smile).

One Thing most people don't know about me

There's really nothing that stands out.

Why did you choose ASU?

The coaches

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Hopefully playing in the pros or coaching.

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