Player Profile: Dustin KellerThere are many new faces within the Miami Dolphins organization this year, and each one comes with a set of hopes and expectations attached to their arrivals. And while they all have one thing in common, being that they all signed with Miami in the offseason in hopes of making the Dolphins a championship contender, each one has a unique story and path that brought them to all to this particular point in their careers. One of those guys with the highest expectations for 2013, tight end Dustin Keller, made a crucial switch his freshman year of college that would unknowingly affect his playing career for many years to come.
Keller is the perfect model of a true all-around athlete – in high school, he not only led the state of Indiana in receptions for his football team, but he was also second-team All-State in basketball and was the state high-jump champion, clearing a jump of 6’9”. It was clear that Keller could’ve had his chance to earn a scholarship in a number of sports, but he ultimately chose to stick close to home to play football for the Purdue Boilermakers. It was there as a freshman that he switched from wide receiver to tight end, and he steadily improved his play each season in college. His production at Purdue, coupled with a fantastic showing at the NFL combine, made his draft stock soar and led to him being chosen 30th overall by the New York Jets in the 2008 NFL Draft.
The Miami Dolphins are only the second team Keller has played for in the NFL, as he spent his first five years in a Jets uniform. Keller had solid production in each of his first four seasons, leading the team in receptions twice and scoring 17 career touchdowns, including five trips to the end zone in his most productive season, 2011, when he had 65 receptions for 815 yards.
With Keller’s career on the rise and rumblings of a long-term extension or even a franchise tag on the horizon, 2012 turned out to be a pivotal season for the tight end. After having four consecutive healthy years in the NFL with no missed games due to injury, Keller was held out of eight games last year for hamstring and ankle injuries. That decline ultimately led to his departure with the Jets, and after signing a one-year deal with Miami this offseason, he has already begun to show flashes of his old, healthy self with an impressive training camp and preseason under his belt in South Florida.
While the Dolphins might have a long way to go to return to championship glory, it is guys like Keller who are once again returning excitement to the team and causing experts to pay attention to the Fins in ways they haven’t in years.
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