Bearcat is bullish for the summer

If you can call Iowa City one thing for Kearney High's Noah Keller, call it a step. A single step toward an obvious destination. It's about attention, the kind you get from colleges when they want you part of your team. It's about offers and Keller will do whatever it takes to get one. Since the combine, the attention has increased, but for Keller and his quest, Iowa City wasn't the culmination. It was just the beginning.

Noah Keller left the All-American Combine "ok" with what he did, but far from satisfied. The 4.65/40 he ran sits particularly bad with him as he knows on many occasions he's run significantly faster.

That was one combine, though, and the good thing is, Keller says he's got plenty of combines and camps ahead of him to do better on everything he did in Iowa.

"I've got three one-day camps I am going to and a combine I am heading to in Oregon, and all of them will be in June," Keller said. "I don't have really any specific goals. Basically, I just want to do better at everything I do."

You can assume that no matter what Keller does he's not going to be totally happy with the results, but even in Iowa City, he said that some of the results showed the kind of versatility he had. "If a coach sees me, being over six foot and weighing 230 pounds, they might wonder about whether or not I have much flexibility," he said. "That's why I like the agility run the most, because if a guy like me runs a 4.4 or around there, that shows I have the flexibility and the feet to play the position."

The position varies, depending on which school is recruiting him, but Keller has gotten the most attention to play the linebacker spot. It's one that suits him well enough, because while he's being recruited as a fullback, linebacker is the position he feels suits him the best. "It just comes natural to me anymore," Noah said of playing linebacker. "Reacting to the ball, knowing where my guys are – it's not easy, but I don't have to think a lot about it. I just go out there and play football."

You can call Keller a throwback type, in that he approaches the game with a mentality, that says there's nothing pretty about football. He doesn't want there to be. This is a rough and tumble sport, smashmouth is the game and that's how he likes to play. "That's football to me," Keller said. "That's the way I think it should be played."

"Just guys out there going at each other and whoever is the strongest wins. That's the kind of stuff I go to bed thinking about every single night."

Keller is thinking about the future too.

Yes, the attention has increased since the Iowa City combine and that's nice. Coach Mike Grant from Iowa State has been by the school, interested in the two-way standout. And coach Blaney from Kansas, along with coach Elmassian from Nebraska, are also supposed to be stopping in.

The attention has certainly increased, but it's not the recruiting attention he's thinking about right now. It's more having to do with his last season of prep ball and how he knows what people saw from him last year was nothing compared to what they will see his last year at Kearney High.

At this point last year to this year, it's two different players," Keller said. "I'm faster, more explosive and I just understand everything that is going on around me. On any play on defense, I can tell you exactly which position is supposed to be doing what. When the game comes to you like that, I can just go out there and do what I do best."

What that is usually involves someone getting their head torn off. Keller did plenty of that last year, notching 121 tackles, 48 of them solo, including 10 for loss, two of which were sacks, and he had an interception as well.

Very good numbers. Amongst the best in the state. But still not good enough for him.

"I don't think you can be satisfied with anything you do or you stop getting better," he said. "That's what this whole summer is about – getting better. Whatever I did the previous camp, I want to do better in the next one. And then the next one after that."

"You can't stop trying to get better."

His first stop on this tour will be Oregon as he attends a combine on June 2nd. After that, it's to Kansas on the 12th of June, followed the day after with a trip to the University of Iowa. Then, after a brief respite, it's off to Nebraska's camp on the 16th, where he'll get to do all the drills and then get to do what he's looking forward to doing the most.

Strapping it on

"I can't wait to put the pads on for these things," Keller said. "You want to put them on right now, but that's going to be great to go to these places, strap it on and go for it in the one-on-ones. That's the part I like the best, because you get to hit people and go up against some other good athletes."

Keller would say that there isn't one camp or combine he's hoping to do well than more than any other. He's looking to blow up in all of them, if he can. Even Nebraska, where the team exists, which he's followed all of his life, isn't sitting at the one school and one group of coaches he has to impress. Sure, it would be nice to go in there without an offer and come out with one in his hand, but he'll have that goal no matter where he goes.

"I just want to show the coaches what I can do and show them that I have the size, aggressiveness and agility to play the position," Noah said of his goals in each of the team camps he'll attend. "I wouldn't say that this is a one-school race. Yeah, I want the offer from Nebraska. This is where I grew up and I am a big fan. But I want the free education first."

"If that happens to be another school other than Nebraska, that's ok, because I will have the free education and I will get to play some more football."

Keller said that Kansas is also another school he's gotten to like over the months, having talked to coach Blaney on a few occasions. And depending on how these camps go and the combine as well, he could have a whole new set of choices open up for him in the future.

That's the bottom line for Keller: First get the offer, the only criteria is that he wants it to be Division 1-A. Then if there's more than that one, that will give him a decision to make. It's one that he'd like to make before the season, if it were to work out that way. If not, it's not a big deal. Keller has waited this long, he'll wait a little longer. And besides, it will give everyone a chance to see what this kid can really do.

"I'm planning on having the best year of my life," Keller said of his final season with the Bearcats. "And that's where I am right now. By the end of the summer, I am hoping to be 10 times better than this when the season starts."

"I'm not really doing that to impress anyone, because that's basically just how I am and me being better will only help my team. I know that I have what it takes to play Division 1-A. I just don't have any doubt about that. I guess if they don't see it now, though, they will. I'm planning on having by far my best year yet."

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