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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nebraska Adds A Quarterback

Former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller has enrolled at the University of Nebraska, a spokeswoman in the registrar and records office at the school told ESPN's Joe Schad on Wednesday morning.

Keller is expected to redshirt at Nebraska this season and be eligible to play his final season next year, likely succeeding Zac Taylor as starting quarterback.

A member of Keller's family said on Wednesday that the quarterback is in Lincoln, visiting with the Nebraska coaching staff. Another member of Keller's family said the reason nobody could officially confirm his transfer to Nebraska until Wednesday was that they wanted Arizona State to provide a housing refund for the player first, which they did.

Keller's family member also said that, in the end, Oklahoma stepped up its interest in signing Keller more than any other school and that the quarterback would consider that as an alternative if something unexpected failed to go through at Nebraska.

Seen outside Memorial Stadium on Wednesday afternoon with Cornhusker officials, Keller was asked by a reporter if he was transferring the Nebraska.

Keller responded by nodding and saying, "Yeah," before he was escorted away, the Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday.

Nebraska coach Bill Callahan confirmed the transfer Wednesday evening.

"He's excited to be here, and we're excited to have him," Callahan said to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Callahan talked to a group of reporters after Wednesday's practice, which ended a few hours after Keller arrived in Lincoln with Tim Cassidy, Nebraska's director of football operations. Callahan said Keller wouldn't be available for official interviews until Thursday.

Blue Ribbon preview: Nebraska

When the decision was made to hire Bill Callahan at Nebraska in 2004, school administrators knew they were breaking the mold of traditional ground-oriented coaches. They knew Callahan would build -- or attempt to build -- a competent passing game through the West Coast offense.
They also knew that Callahan was not going to bring in a typical college football coach's personality either. While he takes care of all media and alumni functions and will do what he can to raise funds, Callahan does not have a Bobby Bowden-type personality. He is not the kind to regale listeners with humorous stories. Callahan is all business.

Keller, who was named the Sun Devils' starting quarterback on Friday only to lose the job to sophomore Rudy Carpenter two days later, had also considered transferring to Louisville or UTEP, not Colorado or Oklahoma, as reported elsewhere, a source told Schad.

Mike Keller, the quarterback's father, is a former professional football player and knows Callahan. Keller would have one season of eligibility left.

Keller, who started seven games for Arizona State last season before breaking his thumb, would have to sit out this coming season under NCAA transfer rules if he decides to leave the Sun Devils for another Division I-A program. He would have one season of eligibility remaining in 2007.

Keller was one of the top-rated passers in Division I-A in 2005 before he was hurt, completing 58 percent of his passes (155-for-264) for 2,165 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Carpenter rallied the Sun Devils to a 4-1 record in their last five games last season and was named MVP of Arizona State's 45-40 victory over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl. He led Division I-A in pass efficiency by completing 68 percent of his passes (156-for-228) for 2,273 yards with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The players were involved in one of the most intense position battles in college football during preseason camp. Koetter announced Keller would be the team's starting quarterback Friday, but then abruptly reversed his decision two days later after meeting with the school's athletic director and a group of team leaders.

"It's simple. I made a mistake on the quarterback situation and I'm changing my mind," Koetter said after Sunday's practice.

Keller, from Danville, Calif., would seem to be a perfect fit for Nebraska coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense. Taylor is a senior, and highly regarded freshman Harrison Beck went AWOL during Nebraska's preseason camp and transferred to North Carolina State.

With Keller's departure, the Sun Devils have only one other scholarship quarterback on their roster: freshman Danny Sullivan.


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