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KHS grad gets one more hurrah – – Kearney, NE

Noah Keller (KHS Graduate) NOAH KELLER plays linebacker for Ohio University. Photo by Joel Hawksley NOAH KELLER plays linebacker for Ohio University. OMAHA — It might not have been obvious to the average OhioUniversity fan, but Bobcats defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow saysNoah Keller played hurt for most of this football season. There have been issues with a hamstring since camp, and Kellereven tweaked it down the stretch. His shoulder is banged up andhurting. Some weeks, Burrow said, the senior linebacker from Kearney hashardly practiced. “But the level of play is still Noah Keller outstanding,” Burrowsaid. “That’s been the most impressive thing. “He’s not 100 percent. He’s probably 90 percent at this time,maybe 85, and continues to make 15 or 16 tackles a game andintercepts the ball and makes plays.” Keller leads head coach Frank Solich’s Bobcats (9-4) into theFamous Idaho Potato Bowl against Utah State Saturday. The 2007 Kearney High graduate and defensive standout on theBearcats’ Class A state championship team has totaled 105 tackles(seven for losses) and also contributed four pass breakups, threeforced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. All along, the second-team All-MAC pick has continued to makesure Ohio is always in the right defense and that his teammates arelined up correctly. “We rely on him so much,” said Burrow, a former Nebraska playerand assistant coach. Keller wasn’t supposed to still be around for 2011 after playinghis first three years in Athens and then the first three games of2010. But a season-ending foot injury at Ohio State led to amedical redshirt. So when the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder made it only a few plays intoOhio’s opener this season and then sat the next week because of hishamstring, he admits that it was tough. “It was real disheartening there in the beginning, but I knew itwas just a hamstring and I’ve been plagued by those before,” Kellersaid. “I knew how to deal with them and respond to them. It wasn’tgoing to be anything like last year where it was something thatrequired surgery.” Burrow is glad it has worked out for Keller, who put med schoolon hold to play again in 2011. He was voted a team captain for thethird straight year, something Burrow said has never happened inschool history. “Not playing last year maybe re-energized him again,” Burrowsaid. “He missed it, and he knows we missed him.” Ohio arrived in Boise this week with six Nebraskans on itsroster. Backup quarterback Phil Bates, a senior from Omaha North,has thrown two touchdown passes and also has 15 receptions (197yards, one TD) and 16 rushing attempts (69 yards). In addition to Solich and Burrow, the Ohio staff includes fourothers with Nebraska or UNO ties: Tim Albin, Gerry Gdowski, KevenLightner and Fred Reed. The associate head coach for Utah State isBill Busch, a former NU assistant and graduate assistant. Burrow has recruited Nebraska during his seven seasons underSolich. Through his pursuit of Keller, he kept waiting for somebodylike a Big 12 school to come with a late offer after Keller made204 tackles and led Kearney to the Class A state championship in2006. Nebraska was going to give him a chance as a preferred walk-on,as were some others. Colorado State had a scholarshipavailable. “Other schools were keeping in touch with me,” Keller said. “Iwas on their board, just not high enough.” 

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