BRADENTON -- UCF fans who tuned in to ESPN2 Sunday to watch the cross-state battle between Miramar and Manatee had to be seriously amped about the Keller-watt performance they witnessed.
Miramar quarterback Nick Jeanty, on the other hand, was not.
Jeanty might still be seeing the numeral ‘5' dancing around in his head during bad dreams this week. That's what he saw coming at him relentlessly on Sunday. Manatee defensive end Blake Keller, a UCF commitment who wears No. 55, introduced himself numerous times to Jeanty. He also got quite familiar with punter Christopher Laurama.
Keller may start getting tugged in other directions by other schools after his national-television performance, during which he had 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and a pair of blocked punts. He returned one of the punts for a 15-yard touchdown and helped Manatee bury visiting Miramar 41-6.
Keller, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds but plays much bigger than the 215, has just five other NCAA Football Bowl Division offers, but after Sunday, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, USF, Western Kentucky and West Virginia are certain to have some company in the near future.
A lot of football fans -- UCF aficionados included -- might not know much about Keller, but he's hoping there were some who learned a little on Sunday.
“It felt amazing, being on national TV and blocking those two punts, that was pretty big,” said Keller, who kind of lost track of the football after the first block or he might have had two touchdowns.
“I was trying, but it kind of bounced the other way,” he said. “It felt good. I scored twice last year and I wanted to again and I got to. You don't score much on defense, but I did this game.”
It was also a big game for Manatee. Keller wasn't the only one preying on the Miramar backfield. The Hurricanes defensive front showed why all four players are on the radar for BCS schools. Fellow senior Derrick Calloway (6-1, 310) has 16 offers, with Arkansas, USC and Texas Tech leading the field. The other two linemen are senior DE Marquis Dawsey, who has no offers, yet, and junior DT Demarcus Christmas, a massive 6-3, 285-pound tackle. Christmas has offers from FSU, Miami, USF, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“Me, Calloway, Christmas and Dawsey, we were all just wreaking havoc and going full speed and I guess they couldn't handle us,” Keller said.
Keller and his father say he's 100 percent solid with the Knights, regardless of who comes knocking, and he was pleased to be able to put on a nice performance for the UCF coaches watching on TV.
“I feel real good. I love the coaches, I love the campus … I love everything about UCF,” Keller said. “[UCF coaches] told me they'd all be watching in the coach's office and so I had to do good for them.”
And while college coaches cannot comment on prospective student athletes, they had to have liked what they saw. Keller hopes UCF fans were impressed, too.
“I hope they know now,” he said. “It made me feel good.”
Vote for the state's No. 100
The Sentinel is inviting readers to help us choose the No. 100 prospect in the Sentinel's Florida Top 100.
We've picked the top 99 players in the 2013 Florida Top 100. Now you get the opportunity to nominate the player you think is most deserving of the final spot on our top in-state prospects list.
First check out the Sentinel's Florida Top 100 at OrlandoSentinel.com/recruiting or SunSentinel.com/recruiting to see what players who are ranked as the top 99 players in the state. Then send your nomination for No. 100 via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations will be accepted until Monday, and the players with the most nominations will be entered into an on-line ballot. The voting will take place for the following week, with the winner unveiled in The Prospector's Sept. 18 column.
We will only accept one nomination per e-mail address.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @Os_Recruiting, Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun