Highland (KS) C.C. defensive lineman Joe Keels committed to Wisconsin at the beginning of October, but that hasn’t stopped other programs from recruiting him. Nebraska and Oregon were the main two schools not giving up, but very recently, West Virginia entered the picture.
Keels sees a connection between himself and former WVU star Bruce Irvin.
“I started talking to them maybe a week or two ago,” said the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder. “They got my film and Erik Slaughter, their defensive line coach, emailed me and said they liked my film a lot and that I was a guy he wanted.”
Those talks escalated quickly, eventually resulting in an official visit.
“He messaged me about setting up a visit date,” said Keels. “I’m definitely taking it. I’m going up there December 6th.”
For Keels, his interest in the Mountaineers is not so much about the play on the field or his relationship with the staff, but a former player that he feels a connection to.
“The main reason is because my favorite player is Bruce Irvin,” he said. “We have a similar story and I like how they want to give me a chance. He was always bouncing around JUCOs, but the whole state of West Virginia welcomed him. They didn’t judge him. Seeing his story and how he played off them, I knew that was a school I’d take a long look into.”
Along with the passion and acceptance of the fan base, Keels would like to follow in Irvin’s footsteps in another way – getting to the quarterback.
“I want to rush the passer,” he said. “I don’t want to be moved down to defensive tackle and play around 290 or 300 or anything like that. And that’s the first thing Coach Slaughter said to me. He says he could help get more flexibility in my hips and make me a dominant pass rusher.”
West Virginia is not the only school he is still considering, though. Keels says he will visit Nebraska for their game against Michigan State (November 16th) and Wisconsin on November 30th for their game against Penn State. By this time next week, he hopes to have an official visit date for Oregon as well.
For now, he’s focused on school and making sure he is prepared to graduate in December. A decision date is not set in stone, with Keels admitting it could come at any time. He will enroll at the school of his choice and will have three years to play two season.
Keels received a four-star, 93-rating from 247Sports as the nation’s fifth-ranked junior college defensive tackle.
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