Keller ready for encore performance

When it comes to those numbers, Kearney High's Noah Keller just seems to be getting better as the months wear on. He gets faster, bigger, stronger and he continues to jump higher than he did before. With his big day at the Nebraska coming up tomorrow, one has to wonder; can Keller come up with yet another big-time performance, and will that be enough to get that offer from the big red?

I'll be the first to admit that I am on the Noah Keller bandwagon, and I'll tell you why:

Sure, he's got great numbers, Keller recently named the MVP at a Nike combine, runnig a 4.66 electronic 40, jumping 37 inches and running a jaw-dropping 4.03 pro agility. Add to that 25 reps at 185, and the fact that this young man is 6 foot, 2 inches tall and 225 pounds, that's a certifiable numbers freak right there.

That's not why I love this kid, though. I love this kid, because, while he could use that impressive athleticism to play well in space, he doesn't give the guy on offense any space to play. He's an in-your-face-up-close-and-physical player.

At the combine in Iowa City, wearing no pads, working in coverage drills, Keller was still knocking guys off of their cleats. When this is basically a touch-football drill, he's going at it like he's got both the uppers and lowers on, and laid the boom on anyone, who he was slated to stop.

That's how he plays, and when you combine that kind of attitude, with those insane kind of numbers, to me, that's a bonafide gem in the making.

That begs the question: Why has only Colorado State offered him?

There is some question about his coverage skills, Keller a staunch and physical player, but not so fluid in the hips, that you could figure him to slot in at safety. And while 6-2 and 225 pounds works great for linebacker at many schools, schools like Nebraska seem to gravitate more toward bigger frames, kids ranging in the 6 foot, 3 inch range, who have the kind of frame they can build upon over their career with the program.

So, that gives him the label of "'tweener", which is taboo in most circles, especially when you are trying to translate ability, size and speed to either the safety or linebacker position. Either needs what you would assume is a vastly different type of player.

Back to the numbers, though: They have only gotten more impressive as the weeks have progressed, and were Keller to put up those kinds of numbers during his one-day session at Nebraska, you have to think that improves his chances at getting that offer from NU.

Keller might think that, but he's opting to think about this competition he's been having with himself. "I'm just trying to do better than I did before and better than I did before that," he said. "I'm psyched up for this, but I'm going out there to do outdo myself and not necessarily do something for someone else."

That said, Keller wouldn't mind the offer from Nebraska. Husker football is what he grew up loving, following and living week-to-week in the fall. Husker red is probably as much in his blood as Bearcat blue. Still, Keller isn't thinking about the end result, because that's not what has him amped for the camp.

He's amped, because this is yet another time to do what he does the best.

"It's the drills. I love the drills. I get really excited for them," Keller said. "I practice my coverage skills all the time, so I love getting out there, going against other players and just doing the best I can."

"All the other stuff is fine, but the one-on-one stuff is what I like. That's the competitive side."

Nebraska fans will concentrate on his performance, as for them, this is the grand stage for any kid from within the borders of the state. It's their one chance to show the coaches what they can do, and possibly get that offer from the school they have followed all their life.

Keller sees that and recognizes that, but while he's thinking about showing out in Lincoln, he's thinking of doing that at other places after this. "I'm still looking at possibly going to Colorado State, Kansas State, Iowa and Iowa State," he said. "I don't know right now, but I'd like to get down there and see what I can do."

"I like the camps, because I like the competition. I'm really doing them for myself more than anything. It's fun going against anyone and everyone."

Keller will get a chance to do just that tomorrow, testing marking the beginning of what will be a very long day. After testing, Keller will join some 400 kids, from over 30 states and as far away as Sweden, and they will take part in three separate practices, along with a variety of individual drills with some of the 40+ coaches who are in attendance.

That's the grueling part, but it's also the best part. It's the pay off for why many kids go to these camps in the first place. Yes, the offers are nice, the recognition is good, but much of this is about learning and enjoying the one-on-ones.

Keller thinks about that, what he's accomplished thus far and his goals for the future. This camp, even if it's the Nebraska camp, is just another brick in the road, leading where he wants to go. "I want the offers, but I think if I do what I know I can do, they will be there," Noah said. "Until then, I just want to compete. I want to go out there, play as hard as I can and do better every time I go out."

"I do that and I'm happy. Whatever happens after that, we'll just see how it goes."

Big Red Report Top Stories