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Keeley a preferred walk on for Wildcats

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

La Crosse High School senior Kip Keeley has long had a poster of legendary Kansas State University coach Bill Snyder on his closet door. He grew up watching the Wildcats and going to their games. Keeley, a four-year starter, Hays Daily Super 11 selection and Shrine Bowl pick, always thought about running onto the field and playing for Coach Snyder.

"He has got his headset on and he kind of pointing his finger," Keeley said of the poster. "I always imagined just having my helmet on and kind of seeing that same face -- just from a different point of view."

Keeley now has an opportunity to play for the Wildcats. On Wednesday, he signed a letter of intent to play for Kansas State.

He is considered a preferred walk-on. Keeley took an official visit and the coaches told him that the Wildcats graduated all of their linebackers from a team that won the Big 12 championship last year. Keeley said he fell on a "bad year" for linebackers with the Wildcats.

"They had to go out and get some juco linebackers," Keeley said. "They really didn't have any scholarships available anymore. .... They really wanted me there, so that's why I ended up choosing them.

Keeley, at the top of his class with La Crosse, could likely collect money through academic scholarships. He is planning on going to school at the beginning of the summer and workout with the team. Keeley is "more than likely" expecting to redshirt next fall.

Keeley said Fort Hays State University and Pittsburg State University both gave him "great offers." The Tigers' offer combined football and track for Keeley, the defending Class 1A javelin champion. Keeley thought about competing in track in college. He took visits to all three schools.

"The atmosphere at K-State and Manhattan is just uncomparable to anywhere else," Keeley said. "Just the people themselves, all just so genuine and so nice. It's everything you hear about the program, the family atmosphere, and how they work hard. It's all true when you get down there and you see it right in front of your eyes."