The saga of college football’s highest-profile free agent did not come to a resolution on Tuesday, as Sam Keller appeared headed to Nebraska before his father indicated that new schools are in the mix.
Cornhuskers coach Bill Callahan told reporters after his squad’s practice that Keller has been given a scholarship release from ASU and intends to enroll at Nebraska.
Evidently, that press conference took place before Callahan received a phone call from Keller’s father, Mike, who informed him that his son is considering other options.
Mike Keller did not return phone messages, but he told ESPN.com, “You know, I’m not trying to play games or play schools against one another, but I can’t say it’s finalized yet.”
The Kellers have reportedly also weighed such schools as Louisville and Texas El-Paso, while Oklahoma and Colorado, both speculated as potential suitors, are not likely destinations.
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils began game-planning for next week’s season opener against Northern Arizona and insist that they are as united as ever in the wake of Keller’s departure.
“I don’t know the deal with Sam or anything,” said Rudy Carpenter, who was elevated to the starting quarterback spot after coach Dirk Koetter’s surprising and sudden depth-chart reversal during the weekend. “I just know that we play NAU next week, and that’s our main concern.”
Keller was named the first-teamer on Friday, then demoted and replaced by Carpenter on Saturday. The switch came after new information emerged, said Koetter, who that day met with Carpenter and his father and discussed the QB situation with a group of players.
Excused from practice since Sunday to consider his options, Keller officially remains on the roster until he or another school informs ASU of a transfer. Koetter said the invitation to rejoin the Sun Devils to back up Carpenter is still open.
“I would love to have Sam back, under the right circumstances,” Koetter said. “The timing of this does stink. Sam is looking at other schools, as he has a right to do, but if he wants to come back and join us, we’ll try and work it out.”
In Lincoln, Neb., Callahan was unable to go into detail regarding Keller because NCAA rules prevent coaches from commenting on players until they enroll at the school. Until Keller enrolls somewhere, he is technically a recruit.
“As soon as I get more information, I’ll be more than happy to release it to the public and the media,” Callahan said.
Keller, a senior, has a redshirt year available. He is expected to sit out the 2006 season, then have one year of eligibility remaining.
Nebraska’s starting quarterback, Zac Taylor, is a senior. The Huskers also have three backups — sophomores Brian Hildebrand, Joe Ganz and Beau Davis — who are unproven, and heralded freshman Harrison Beck left the team during camp and transferred to North Carolina State.
Callahan said that no timetable exists for Keller to join the team.
“By and large, I’m just sitting back, waiting to see what’s going to happen here,” Callahan said.