Keelan Smith Commits to Nebraska

Keelan Smith

Late last week, three-star athlete Keelan Smith committed to the Nebraska football program over schools like Arkansas, Iowa, and Missouri. As the 14th-ranked tight end in the state of Missouri, Smith becomes the latest valued high school prospect to commit in the last five weeks for the Husker program, Smith joins fellow recruits Ian Flynt and Willis McGahee as some of the new faces to join the class over the last couple of months.  But what does Smith’s commitment mean for Matt Rhule and the rest of the staff? What are they getting?  Here are a couple of thoughts regarding his commitment.

Following In His Father’s Footsteps

For being the son of legendary Husker defensive tackle Neil Smith, the son has a lot to live up to if he wants to emulate his father’s success. As one of the best defensive tackles that the school has ever produced,  Neil Smith totaled 169 total tackles and 14 sacks over his career with the Cornhuskers. It was this effort that led him to an All-Pro career with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos.  Now, it looks as though his son is doing the same thing, but at a different position.  As a sophomore at Liberty North High School in Missouri,  Smith flourished in his first season at the wide receiver position. This was shown when he caught 16 receptions for 321 yards along with three touchdowns.  However,  he would really show improvement in his junior season. He hauled in 50 catches for 850 yards for 11 touchdowns.

Establishing Recruiting Ties In Missouri

It is no secret that Nebraska has struggled to get prospects out of the state of Missouri.  In fact, it seems that Nebraska continues to lose top-ranked prospects in the Kansas City area.   We need look no further than Rockhurst’s Andrew Sprague and his commitment to Michigan. In addition to this,  Bellevue West product Daniel Kaelin committed to Missouri last month. But there is still hope. With both Jaidyn Doss on the roster and Smith as a commit, Matt Rhule and his staff are starting to establish their presence in the state again. But can they continue their pipeline by landing five-star defensive lineman Williams Nwaneri? The 4-star prospect and the top player in the state of Missouri recently visited the program in early March. Because of this, he put Nebraska in an updated Top 10 list.  Will he sign with the program after this or will Nebraska suffer another recruiting miss from the 500-mile radius?

Outlook In The Offense

For being 6-3 and 205 pounds, Keelan Smith has the ideal measurables to play in Marcus Satterfield’s offense in the hybrid wide receiver position. But is he what the coaching staff is looking for?   As a young coach on Rhule’s staff, Garrett McGuire may want to go with proven commodities like Marcus Washington, Billy Kemp, or Xavier Betts. Or he may want to take a chance with playing a talented freshman like Malachi Coleman. Because of these options, he would want to come in as a wide receiver but turn into a tight end later in his career.   The only challenge? He has to learn the position by going up against Arik Gilbert and Thomas Fidone at practice.


Keelan Smith

Photo courtesy: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports