Keller a hot topic after practice

Nebraska hit the field today, finally getting ready to prepare for this season's home-opener against Louisiana Tech. Typical to the drama, which has followed Nebraska over recent weeks, though, the actual preparations took a back seat. Much of the interest had to do with Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller. Head coach Bill Callahan addressed that today.

It's hard to imagine the situation which would have to come about to make a senior QB leave a major Division 1-A program, opting to transfer someplace else. But it's not like anyone is going to complain, at least those, who might be the benefactor of the potential defection.

Certainly not Nebraska and for Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, that could be where he ends up.

Following a melee' of rumors and reports that the Sun Devil is indeed transferring to Nebraska, head coach Bill Callahan had unfortunately very little he could actually say. "I'd like to talk about it further, but the NCAA has really restricted my ability to speak about it, because he is a recruited prospect," Callahan said of the Keller situation. "All I can tell you is that he has been granted permission – given a release by Arizona State to Nebraska."

While the head coach couldn't elaborate on just what that meant in regard to Keller actually transferring, he did say that at this point nothing official has taken place. "It's all pure speculation at this point," regarding Keller actually being at Nebraska. "I don't know what's going to happen yet, so it's just speculation."

If Nebraska added Keller to their roster, it would instantly give them experience for 2007 they currently do not have. Recent junior college transfer Brian Hildebrand was at one point with Oregon State, but never started a game. Of the two current quarterbacks behind senior Zac Taylor, only sophomore Beau Davis has any experience as he filled in for former Husker Joe Dailey in Nebraska's 70-10 loss to the Red Raiders. In that game Davis completed just one pass and threw four interceptions.

Keller's statistics, conversely, are impressive as the Sun Devil was actually on record-setting pace for ASU last year until he went down with an injury. During the 2005 campaign, Keller debuted as the starter, throwing for 400 yards twice, along with 300 yards twice, in the first five games.

For his career, Keller has played in 19 games with eight starts and has completed 220 of 378 career passes for 3,018 yards, scoring 26 touchdowns, while throwing just 11 interceptions.

As a starter, Keller averaged almost 317 yards passing per game and has thrown 23 touchdown passes. He owns the second-highest career completion percentage in school history and has the lowest career interception percentage (.0291) in ASU history (301-400 attempts), having thrown only 11 interceptions among 378 career passes.

When asked about the possibility of adding yet another quarterback to the mix, sophomore Joe Ganz said that whatever happens, happens. "If they bring someone else in, that's just more competition and that's never going to change," he said. "You can't just say that you don't want them to bring a player in."

"It's competition. There's always going to be competition. You just have to go in there and give it your best to get your shot on the field."

Depending on which report you believe, the Kellers may or may not have been in Lincoln over the past weekend and they may or may not have already gotten the paperwork process going. As a redshirt senior, Keller would have one year in which he could learn Nebraska's system and one year of actual time to play.

According to Sam's father, though, while he admitted to having contact with Bill Callahan, he said that's all the farther things have went. "I haven't been in Nebraska and I know that we haven't ruled out Sam possibly going back to Arizona State," Mike Keller said. "Everything is still kind of up in the air and nothing is official."

"Nebraska isn't the only school looking at him, because Oklahoma, UTEP and Iowa, amongst others, have also shown interest in Sam. Right now we are just trying to figure out what we have as options."

Nebraska does have Patrick Witt, a commit out of Wylie, Texas coming in from the prep ranks, and he's slated to enroll early, joining the team at the beginning of next year. That would give Nebraska one true freshman, one sophomore (Hildebrand) and both Ganz and Davis would be juniors going into next year. Keller's addition would give them a senior with proven Division 1-A experience.

With the recent loss of Harrison Beck, the drama around the position has only increased. And it's obvious that with the Keller situation, that won't die out anytime soon. Callahan acknowledged it to the extent that he has talked with some of his own quarterbacks about it, but said that all this is or has the potential to be, is just another way to make the team better. "I had an opportunity to visit with a couple of them (the quarterbacks), but by and large, the way I look at our job here at Nebraska is to find the best players in the country and try to recruit them., bring them here, try to elevate our talent level and elevate the competition," he said.

"That's what will make us a good football team."

The reasons behind Keller leaving Arizona State are not certain. Reports have surfaced, which state that Keller was allegedly named the starting QB over sophomore Rudy Carpenter.

Carpenter took over for Keller last year after the injury and led Arizona State to a 4-2 record as a starter, finishing the season with 156 completions on 228 attempts, totaling 2,273 yards, throwing for 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Reports are that while head coach Dirk Koetter named Keller as the starter this season, players and/or parents of players appealed the decision, citing the possibility that if that remained the case, Carpenter would transfer. Koetter allegedly flipped his decision, then naming Carpenter the starter, starting this recent chain of events.

To the actual events, Keller's father only said this: "It's just an unfortunate situation, which we didn't want to be in," he said. "We don't know what's going to happen, but it's not like we wanted to look for a different school for Sam right when classes are about to start."

"That's my son and we want what's best for him, so that's what we are going to do."

In other news:

Junior linebacker Steve Octavien returned to practice as the Huskers hit half-pads as they now start preparations for Louisiana Tech.

Junior college transfer Brandon Johnson also hit the field today, for the first time as a Husker. Currently, Johnson is working the defensive tackle position, slated to play behind senior DT Barry Cryer.

Freshman defensive back Anthony West returned to practice, following an ankle injury. Head coach Bill Callahan said that West was limited in just how much he was able to do.

Andre Jones continues to practice and appears to be back to 100%

A number of new players joined the team today, coach Callahan saying that approximately 15 specialists, from punters to long snappers are now working out with the squad.

Nebraska will resume practice tomorrow as they continue preparations for the home opener against Louisiana Tech.


Big Red Report Top Stories