Cornhuskers a 'good fit' for new arrival Keller

Updated: August 24, 2006, 9:55 PM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Sam Keller's whirlwind week found him with new teammates on the Nebraska practice field Thursday.

A week ago Keller was Arizona State's starting quarterback.

Sam Keller
Nati Harnik /AP PhotoFormer Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller led the scout team at Cornhuskers practice Thursday in Lincoln.
Thursday, he was wearing a green No. 5 practice jersey and preparing to lead the Cornhuskers' scout team.

"A lot of things happened really fast, back-to-back-to-back," Keller said. "It came at me really quick, so I had to have my head on straight. It's been fun, though. Once I get settled in here, it's going to be a nice deal."

Some preseason publications touted Keller as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and he was prepared to pick up where he left off after a broken thumb ended his 2005 season prematurely.

ASU coach Dirk Koetter announced Keller had won the starter's job last Friday. But on Sunday, Koetter said he had made a mistake and that Rudy Carpenter would be the starter.

Keller was given his release and began looking for a new school. He said he picked Nebraska because he likes the Cornhuskers' West Coast offense and believes it is the best vehicle to help him get to the NFL.

As a transfer, Keller can practice but not play in games this season. Next year he'll be a fifth-year senior and the overwhelming favorite to succeed Zac Taylor as the Huskers' starter.

"This place is just a good fit all around," Keller said. "And it seemed like they were really excited to have me. That felt good to be wanted by such a big program."

He said he looks forward to being Taylor's understudy and competing for the job next year.

"I want to have a role where I just absorb and learn and support (the team) and be a sponge. There is a lot I've got to learn," he said. "I want to get settled in and learn the offense by spring and take it from there."

Keller declined to comment on the specifics of his departure from ASU.

"That situation was decided based on what they thought was best for their program," he said. "I can only control what I can control. What I could do is make the best of a new opportunity. I just want to come be a part of this team and help them win."

Keller burst onto the college football scene late in 2004 when he started the Sun Bowl. He threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over Purdue. That performance stamped him as one of the nation's elite quarterbacks, and he was unanimously voted an ASU team captain for 2005.

Last year Keller started the Sun Devils' first seven games and completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,165 yards and 17 touchdowns. He broke his thumb trying to stiff-arm an Oregon defender in the seventh game.

Keller said the events of the past week have taught him a lot about dealing with adversity. He said he's up to the challenge of starting over at Nebraska.

"I have a lot to do to earn my spot and earn the respect of these guys," he said. "I'm in a whole new place, and I have to show everybody here in Huskerland that I belong."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press