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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 13 2012

Keller steps up as NDSU's kicker

FARGO – It’s not unheard of for a college football player to miss most of his first two seasons because of injuries. But a kicker?

That’s precisely what Adam Keller dealt with and it wasn’t easy getting through it. He admits that his position, not the most physical of spots on the field, gets a ribbing for that simple fact.

Nagging quadricep injuries prevented him from challenging Ryan Jastram for the starting job in his true freshman season. A groin injury hampered him the following spring football season. Last spring, he hurt his hamstring running 40-yard sprints and spent spring ball doing limited work.

Moreover, Jastram excelled as the starter the last two years sending Keller to the sideline for good.

But on Monday in practice, it was Keller – now a sophomore – who provided a calming performance during a workout that was littered with mistakes. He nailed a 40-yard field goal that hit the top of the old Dacotah Field scoreboard on the west side of the practice facility.

He hit one from 45 yards with no problem.

Head coach Craig Bohl said right now he would have no problem letting Keller attempt a field goal from 48 yards and in at the Fargodome.

“I just think it’s me being healthy and being able to get a good leg on the ball now,” Keller said.

It’s translated to a higher confidence level, both with himself and with his teammates.

“You start to get a little more respect from the guys,” he said. “The jokes still come our way but that’s part of the position.”

Keller had high marks coming out of Lewisberry, Pa. NDSU saw him in a kicking camp and tabbed him to be the successor to four-year starter Shawn Bibeau beginning in 2010.

The plan, Keller said, was for him to play right away.

“But Ryan had two good years and obviously I had to pay my dues,” Keller said. “Now it’s my time to step up. It just feels good to be out here and healthy for once.”

Keller has already won the job from two walkon kickers. Freshman Sam Koenig from Dubuque, Iowa, was the backup in Monday’s practice.

“He’s been really consistent and has had pretty good range,” Bohl said of Keller.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.