2015 Husker profile: Joe Keels

Nebraska defensive end Joe Keels is in his second year with the program and will look to contribute more than he did last season.

Joe Keels

Position: DE/P>

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3/265-pounds

High School: Bradford HS (WI)

JUCO: Highland CC (KS)

Year: Senior


2014 preview:
Keels played in five games, seeing action in the first three contests, and also against Illinois and Rutgers. Keels had an unassisted tackle at Fresno State.

The Lincoln Journal Star’s Steve Sipple wrote about the junior’s struggles last season during the spring, highlighting the death of two family members as a main reason for Keel’s unexpected weight drop and play.


2015 preview:
The defensive end spot appears to be one of great concern hearing into 2015, with Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish as the starters and a slew of other guys competing for second-team reps.

BRR projection: Keels will likely keep Gangwish honest in the fall campfor the starting defensive end spot opposite of Greg McMullen. Watch for Keels to try to fend off youngster Freedom Akinmoladun and Sedrick King throughout fall camp. In addition, he will have to possibly worry about Khalil and Carlos Davis, who are eventual defensive tackles that could play defensive end this season.

Expect Keels appearances to go up, but he’s a role defensive end in his final year with Nebraska.


How he ended up in Lincoln:

A Wisconsin commit when he officially visited Nebraska in November of 2013, Keels pulled a changeup by switching to Nebraska in December, just a few weeks before junior college National Signing Day.

Nebraska’s efforts on the recruiting trail to land the four-star product played a major factor. The coaching staff was relentless in their pursuit of Keels. The Huskers made numerous trips to see the JUCO product in Kansas, but the clincher was the head coach making a trip to see Keels’ mom in Wisconsin.

Maybe the most notable thing about his flip to the Huskers was he took his official visit to Wisconsin two weeks after spending time in Lincoln. Usually the freshest visit plays a huge factor in recruiting.

Keels had offers from Alabama, Arizona, Boise State, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Penn State, USC and West Virginia.

Keels earned second-team All-Jayhawk League honors in 2013 after recording 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks in nine games, helping Highland to a 6-4 record.

Keels was a focus of offensive coordinators in the Jayhawk league, using his athletic ability to record quite a few quarterback hurries.


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