ATH, Class of 2021
Tennessee High, Bristol, TN
For the past three days, Tennessee High (Tenn.) three-star defensive back Jaden Keller has fought off a strep throat infection. But the day had already been set. Keller had already announced Oct. 29 as the day he would announce where he would play college football.
Keller, Rivals.com’s No. 23 player in Tennessee for 2021, followed through on that promise yesterday, when he announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. But there was very little celebration. Keller said he might eat at local favorite Pal’s Sudden Service today as a type of minor celebration. But going forward, he said he’s solid with his decision and of the role he’ll have with the Hokies.
It helped Keller in his decision that he has visited Blacksburg on a game day. His last visit to the campus was last November, for Virginia Tech’s win over North Carolina. But Keller said he also leaned on the relationships he’d built before and since, and said he’s known his decision for a few weeks.
“Definitely the coaching staff, how the environment is and how my mom and brothers fell in love with the campus,” he said. “It’s also close to home, so they can continue to see me play.
“I called the coaching staff and told them I was coming. They were definitely excited, and I really enjoyed that.”
Assistant coach Adam Lechtenberg has been Keller’s primary contact. Keller cited their bond specifically and how they’ve stayed in steady communication.
“I think (the relationships) were very important,” he said. “I like how they can get funny and get serious. They play a very fast defense, so I like that also. The coaches are just great guys all around.”
It’s still not quite set what role Keller will have on the Hokies’ defense. He said the coaches have talked about either safety or linebacker, depending on a number of factors.
Throughout this season, Keller said he’s worked on a few aspects of his game, and with the playoffs coming, he has more to do.
“Now, I feel like (my recruitment is) behind me now,” Keller said. “I can focus on skills, like backpedaling and getting out of my breaks faster and more efficient. I’m definitely trying to open my hips faster, break on the ball. And I’m still working on that right now.”
Last month, Keller released a list of seven of potential destinations. Ultimately, he said it came down to Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt.
“I did like Vanderbilt,” Keller...
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