Gridiron dreams from hardwood lineage

The name "Ron Kellogg" isn't one which is noted as part of Husker lore unless you are into documenting players who have given Nebraska fits over the years. Ron Kellogg Sr. did just that as a member of the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team from 1983 through 1986. But ironically the Nebraska native could have a son who may be an addition to the Huskers in the future.

As the son of a former Kansas Jayhawk basketball player, Ron Kellogg Jr. probably gets asked where he will end up playing basketball. Not a bad question to ask considering the lineage. But for the second Ron Kellogg he's taken a bit to playing on grass fields versus looking at his future on the hardwood.

At 6-2 and 200 pounds, the Omaha Westside athlete has the versatility to play both sports, of course, but he's lately started looking at himself as a football player. The recent honor of being named the MVP of Nebraska's 2008 QB Academy might have cemented that for him. "It was great. I wasn't really expecting it, but it got me excited about playing the position," he said.

It's a position he's used to, starting every game as a junior, but Kellogg said of his experience at the QB Academy that he learned more about what playing that position really entails. "There's a lot that goes into playing quarterback, from how you throw to your feet and keeping your eyes downfield," he said. "Coach (Shawn) Watson was really good at showing just what goes into being a good quarterback."

While his dad's mark was in basketball, Sr. still one of the most prolific guards in Nebraska high school history, Jr. has felt for sometime that his future lies somewhere else. The Academy might have cemented that desire, but for Kellogg Jr. now, it's about taking aspirations and turning it into reality. That was another thing Kellogg Jr. got from this camp, and it's something he said he's looking forward to realizing as he tries to help Westside improve on the 7-3 record a season ago. "I learned a lot there, but a big thing you learn is about how you are part of a team. You learn how what you do is just part of the whole thing," he said. "It's about doing your best, helping your team and just doing the little things which will make you and everyone else better."

While the Husker ties may not be there, the Nebraska ties obviously run deep. So deep that Jr. commented on the fact that his father, despite the fact that he wasn't a Cornhusker himself, looks at what's going on at Nebraska right now as a good thing. "He's happy about it, because he thinks Nebraska will get back to being more like they used to be, and he's happy with the kind of coaches who are there now," he said.

Ron Jr. isn't upset about it either. "They are all great. I mean, they are all serious coaches, but they are down-to-earth people who you can talk to and feel like you can trust," Jr. said. "I know coach Watson, he's just a cool guy who is serious at times, but will joke around with you, too."

The questions about the Husker football team going into 2008 have more to do with the defensive side of the ball than they do on offense. When it came to yards and points, the Husker offense, first led by Arizona State transfer Sam Keller and then junior quarterback Joe Ganz who took over for Keller after he was sidelined with an injury, was amongst the nation's best.

Kellogg Jr. saw a lot more of himself in Ganz, who is expected to start for the Huskers this season, and even while Ganz was piling up record numbers in just a smattering of games toward the end of the season, Kellogg Jr. said that he could see himself doing that as well. "I have a lot to learn, but what they did with Joe, I can see myself doing, because I think I have good enough athleticism to be able to make the plays with my feet if I have to," he said. "I have a lot to learn, but I have a lot of confidence in what I can eventually do."

Omaha Westside offensive coordinator Ryan Gottula is confident as well, especially considering that his first-year QB from the 2007 season went into the position almost brand new. "Some people may not know, but Ron missed his entire sophomore year with a knee injury and was kind of learning on the go when he started for us last year," Gattula said. "We obviously had a good running game with Collins Okafor at running back and Trent Goodman at fullback, so Ron didn't need to do everything, but he did a pretty good job."

On the season Kellogg completed 54 of 104 passes for 1,050 yards, throwing for 11 touchdowns against only three interceptions. That's efficient, especially for a first-year QB, but that's not the only area where Gattula has seen him improve. "Well, first of all, I think he's just done a great job coming back from that injury and with him playing basketball and running track, he's gotten a lot quicker and his feet are a lot better, too," he said. "But his decision-making is better, which you saw from that camp and I think he's just gotten better all-around."

As to the other side of the ball, Kellogg commented on that, because some schools have tried to look at him to play defense, but ala Phillip Bates Jr., a former Omaha North standout who is now vying for the starting spot at Iowa State this year, Jr. is thinking about his future at hopefully just one position. "I want to play quarterback. That's what I feel I am going to be good at and it's the position I really want to play," he said. "In the end I will do whatever is best for the team, and a scholarship is a scholarship, but I'd like to be a quarterback in the future."

Even though Kellogg Jr. doesn't necessarily want to play defense, he is interested in it, especially as a fan who watched Nebraska's defense get hammered last season, finishing the year ranked 112th in total defense out of 119 teams. That's where Bo Pelini comes in and just like it seems to be the opinion of anyone else who has bothered to even glance at the Huskers this year, he thinks that this team is preparing for a major turnaround. "They are going to be good, that's for sure. With coach Pelini there, that defense is going to get back to being the "blackshirts" and not the "greyshirt"," he said. "And everyone knows they have a good offense, so I think Nebraska is going to really turn it around this year."

Nebraska is recruiting Kellogg, Jr., of course, analyzing what he does and a number of coaches offered him constructive criticism throughout the QB camp in Lincoln. You can add Iowa , Iowa State and a number of other schools who have expressed interest in him as well. When it comes to offers, though, Ron Jr. doesn't have one as of yet, and everything he's doing now is pointed toward first, helping his team become better, but also pushing his stock up to the point where interest from schools gets put down in writing.

The good thing for him is that because his dad was such a highly touted recruit in basketball, his perspective on recruiting and just enjoying it, makes this a process something which isn't stressful, but something he wants to relish while it lasts. "My dad says to enjoy it and just concentrate on what I have to do and not worry about anything else. Not many kids get to experience this and he wants to make sure I enjoy it for what it is," he said. "So, I don't think about where I might play, what position or any of that. I know there are a lot of great schools out there. I am looking at every one and I am just going to worry about becoming better at what I do."

There may be no real school of preference as Kellogg Jr. said he wants to make sure everyone knows he's keeping his options open, but he has aspirations which are consistent of kids growing up in the state. "I'll play anywhere. It doesn't matter. There are too many good places out there to limit yourself. So, location doesn't matter," he said. "But," he said with a chuckle, "I wouldn't mind playing 45 minutes to the west."

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