May 25, 2024

Daniel Kaelin providing quality depth to Huskers’ quarterback room

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Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Nebraska quarterback Daniel Kaelin drops back to attempt a pass during the second quarter of the Red and White Game Saturday April 27, 2024 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

LINCOLN, Neb. — Dylan Raiola wasn’t the only true freshman quarterback who made his debut in last Saturday’s Red and White Game.

Although Daniel Kaelin was thrown to the wolves, and took snaps for both teams, he still put together a solid performance. Memorial Stadium had 60,000-plus fans on hand, which was a huge jump for an individual that played high school ball five months ago. However, he didn’t look like a deer in headlights, and instead handled himself like a seasoned-veteran.

“I think coming into this spring, I just wanted to attack it everyday, be aggressive and learn as much as I could,” Kaelin said. “So I think I definitely did that, there was some good, some bad, but overall I improved and learned a lot.”

Kaelin got off to a rough start though, after he was picked off in the first quarter by Mason Jones. He didn’t hang his head, and later responded with some impressive plays in the second quarter. Kaelin completed two passes for the White on a 16-yard touchdown drive that tied the game up at 14. Not to mention he completed five of his six passes for 51 yards on the Red’s final drive of the first half.

Once the smoke cleared, Kaelin finished with 91 yards through the air, and an interception. Kaelin wanted to show Coach Matt Rhule that he could operate Marcus Satterfield’s offense, and he held his own with Raiola and Heinrich Haarberg.

“I feel I left some plays out there for sure, but overall decision-making I felt pretty decisive, kind of just played and trusted myself out there,” he said. “I think overall it’ a lot to learn from, but I’m proud of the way I came out, and pretty confident.”

There’s no denying that Rhule needs to approach the season with three quarterbacks on the depth chart. After all, he played musical chairs with Haarberg, Chubba Purdy and Jeff Sims in 2023. Rhule even emphasized in his post game press conference that he wants to have three quarterbacks ready at any given moment. The second-year coach believes Raiola, Haarberg and Kaelin can be successful in this offense too.

“I think we have our starter sitting in that room, we have three guys that we believe in,” Rhule said. “I think we have quarterbacks that are capable of winning for us, I think quarterback play has significantly improved from last season, and that’s where we’re at.”

Kaelin understands that he could be put into the lineup at any give moment, especially if an injury occurs. Which is why he’s staying ready, regardless of his inexperience. Kaelin’s work ethic over the next four months is going to determine his value to the offense this fall.

It’s no mystery that Rhule has upgraded the roster with talent through recruiting and the transfer portal. Kaelin knows that he’s in a great situation. There’s better protection from the big boys up front because of experience. Nebraska led the Big Ten in rushing yards per game last season, and have a deep running back room. On top of that, there’s speed at wide receiver and tight end.

Kaelin is trying to learn as much of the playbook as possible. He also plans on building more chemistry with the wideouts. A lot can change from now until fall camp, and Kaelin is going to stay on the daily grind. Familiarity is key, and he’s one of three Bellevue West graduates that competed in the spring game.

Kaelin still wants to prove that he can hang with the big boys. The six-foot-three, 210-pounder is trying to improve several areas of his game during the process, including accuracy, decision-making, and footwork. Kaelin just wants to get to the point where the game is starting to slow down for him. So he’s going to learn on the fly while he transitions from high school to Big Ten football. Kaelin is excited about the weapons the Huskers have in their arsenal, and how Satterfield’s system is quarterback-friendly.

“I think with the offense we have a lot of different options as far as where to go with the ball, but also with the play-calling.”

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