Keller contributes to North Dakota's national title
The son of a 1986 Connellsville graduate and Falcon football player is making a name for himself in college football.
Kicker Adam Keller, the son of Robert Keller, helped North Dakota State University win its second consecutive national championship title earlier this month. NDSU beat Sam Houston State in the Football Championship Subdivision national final in Frisco, Texas.
Keller is a 2010 graduate of Red Land High School in central Pennsylvania, where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. This past season, he was a redshirt sophomore at NDSU, where he was chosen as the first-team all-conference kicker for the Missouri Valley Conference.
Prior to the national championship game on Jan. 5, Keller tied the NDSU school record of 16 field goals in a season. His longest field goal was 49 yards against Youngstown State, and he was also NDSU's leading scorer with 104 points.
Keller is a business marketing major and carries a 3.3 GPA. He has two more years of football eligibility. Prior to this past season, he did not play because of a senior player in front of him as well as an injury to his hamstring.
“This year I knew it was my position for the taking, and someone else was going to have to beat me out in order to lose the spot,” Keller said. “I knew if I continued to get better I would probably be named the starter.”
His personal goals for the season were to help his team win the conference and a national championship, plus earn all-conference honors. He accomplished all of those. Going into the championship game, Keller said he felt confident that the preparation he and his team had done would be enough to win.
The first half ended with Keller missing a 50-yard field goal, but he made up for that more than once in the second half, including throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass. He had never thrown a touchdown pass before, and there really wasn't a plan for that.
“We are taught if anything goes wrong to give a ‘fire' call in which the guys on the end of the line release out for a pass,” Keller said. “Other than that there is no organization beyond that.”
He added that the play was more of a reaction rather than him having any time to feel confident in what he was doing. In addition to his touchdown pass, Keller made one of two field goals and all four extra-point attempts as NDSU cruised to a 39-13 triumph.
“What I took away from this experience is the understanding of what it truly takes to be successful, not only on the football field but in life as well,” Keller said.
And while the next season doesn't begin until fall, Keller said there's not much down time between seasons.
“We start training (in January) with lifting and running, and spring ball then begins around the beginning of April,” he said.
Rachel R. Basinger is a freelance writer.