Dustin Keller #81 TE
Height: 6-2 Weight: 250 Age: 28
Born: 9/25/1984 Lafayette , IN
Experience: 6th season
High School: Jefferson HS [Lafayette, IN]
Selected By: New York Jets
Pick (Overall): 30 (30)
A semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end, Keller has come a long way since arriving on Purdue's campus as a 185-pound wide receiver in 2003.
Keller goes down as one of the school's top tight ends and earned team Most Valuable Player honors as a senior, the first tight end to receive that honor since Dave Young in 1979.
It was sort of a natural process that brought Keller to Purdue, as most of his relatives had attended the university. His mother, Maureen, and grandmother, Linda Orr, are Purdue graduates. His grandfather, Dale Mulvey, played on the 1952 Purdue football team that won the Big Ten Conference championship. Brothers, Dwight and Drew, also attended Purdue. His great-grandfather, Robert P. Siskind, was an electrical engineering professor at the university. Purdue offered Keller its final scholarship in 2003 to keep him from signing with Toledo instead.
At Jefferson High School, Keller was named one of the top 50 receivers in the nation by Street & Smith's and added first team All-State as a senior. He was runner-up for the state's Top Receiver Award and a finalist for Indiana "Mr. Football" honors. He was also named Area Co-Offensive Player of the Year by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
As a senior, Keller set state records with 113 receptions for 1,804 yards (16.0-yard average) and 22 touchdowns. He participated in basketball and track and field. He captured the state high-jump championship as senior, clearing 6'9" in a steady rain, after finishing second his junior year with a personal best of 6'10".
The lanky receiver spent the 2003 season with the scout team at Purdue. His body continued to develop in the weight room and he showed up at 2004 spring camp at a chiseled 235 pounds. While his new frame earned him a letter, he appeared mostly on special teams in nine contests, earning his first career start in the Ohio State game. He finished 2004 with only five catches for 102 yards (20.4-yard average), but two of those grabs were touchdowns.
Keller continued his role as a reserve tight end and special teamer in 2005. A right knee sprain kept him out of the Minnesota game, as he saw action in 10 games. He grabbed 13 passes for 128 yards (9.8-yard average), finding the end zone three times.
Keller cracked the starting lineup for 12 of 14 games in 2006. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention, finishing third on the team with 56 receptions for 771 yards (13.4-yard average) and four touchdowns. He had one solo tackles and gained 39 yards on three kickoff returns (13.0 avg). An right shoulder (AC joint tear) injury suffered in October would hamper him the second half of the season, but he toughed it out, playing in every game. After his junior campaign, he underwent surgery to repair the shoulder damage.
At 248 pounds, Keller was ready to establish himself among the nation's top tight ends in 2007. He was an All-American honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly, team MVP and All-Big Ten Conference second-team choice. He hauled in a career-high 68 passes for 881 yards (13.0-yard average) and seven touchdowns, also scoring on a fumbled rushing attempt while making three solo tackles and returning a kickoff 15 yards. He ranked fourth nationally among tight ends with an average of 5.23 receptions per game and fifth with 67.77 receiving yards per game. His 68 receptions are the second-most in school history among tight ends, while his 731 yards rank third.
In 46 games at Purdue, Keller started 26 contests. He hauled in 142 passes for 1,882 yards (13.3-yard average) and 16 touchdowns. He recovered a rushing attempt in the end zone for a score, posted four solo tackles and gained 54 yards on four kickoff returns, finishing with 102 points scored and an average of 42.09 all-purpose yards per game.