Kellogg an instant celeb
Published on -11/5/2013, 10:13 AM
By ERIC OLSON
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Long an after-thought when it comes to Nebraska's quarterback depth chart, Ron Kellogg III finally got his turn in the spotlight, and did he ever shine.
Kellogg still seemed overwhelmed Monday, two days after he threw the desperation pass from midfield that was tipped and landed in Jordan Westerkamp's hands with no time left to beat Northwestern.
Congratulatory tweets came from, among others, actress-model Gabrielle Union and comedian Larry the Cable Guy. He and Westerkamp were stars of the weekend highlight shows. A horde of media waited for Kellogg at the team's weekly availability.
"I couldn't believe we actually made the play," he said. "Not too many people say they can accomplish a Hail Mary for a game-winning touchdown. I'm still in awe."
Few would have predicted that, after four-plus seasons spent mostly on the sidelines, Kellogg would be involved in a moment that goes down as one of the most memorable in the 90-year history of Memorial Stadium.
"Just proves that every other walk-on who's on this team can have their number called at an important time," he said, "and that's something you should never doubt yourself about."
Kellogg said his only full scholarship offer when he was coming out of Westside High in Omaha in 2009 was from South Dakota State from the Football Championship Subdivision. He chose to walk on at Nebraska because of the school's academic program and the fact his parents were so impressed with Tom Osborne, the coaching great who was athletic director at the time.
Coach Bo Pelini put Kellogg on scholarship for the first time this year. He's never been a serious contender for the starter's job that Taylor Martinez has owned since 2010. Kellogg redshirted in 2009 and didn't get into a game the next two seasons. He threw a total of 11 passes in four mop-up appearances last year.
When Martinez got hurt in September, the coaching staff decided to go with redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. and have Kellogg rotate in every few series. After Armstrong threw three interceptions Saturday, there was no hesitation to turn to Kellogg for the final 1:14.
"Tommy struggled a little bit, and there were some things that were taking place coverage-wise," offensive coordinator Tim Beck said. "I was concerned going into this two-minute drill that these guys had shown a variety of different coverages, and I wanted to go with the more veteran quarterback at that point."
On the last play, Kellogg held off the pass rush for what he said felt like an eternity and then heaved the ball to the end zone. Once Westerkamp made the catch and started getting mobbed by teammates in the south end zone, Kellogg turned tail and sprinted north.
"I blacked out," Kellogg said, not quite able to explain why he ran away from the celebration.
Coach Bo Pelini joked, "I don't know where he went. Maybe he had a dinner to get to."
His mom, Latrice Kellogg, and a brother and sister were in the stadium. His father, Ron Kellogg Jr., an All-Big Eight basketball player at Kansas in the 1980s, whooped it up so much at a sports bar in Omaha that he almost was asked to leave.
Before Kellogg left the field, he and Martinez embraced for what Kellogg said seemed like "35 minutes."
"It was a total bromance moment," he said. "We've been friends for a long time now, including roommates. He just told me it was a play he'll probably never forget and that he's glad I'm his teammate and that we've been such close friends."
Kellogg, listed at 6-foot and 220 pounds, said he's gotten a laugh over some of the comments about his build from folks who watched him for the first time.
One media type called the winning play the "Husky Hail Mary." Union, who was born in Omaha, tweeted that he looked like the "long lost twin" of paunchy quarterback Byron Leftwich -- a remark Kellogg jokingly called "ruthless."
"There was a big ordeal with how I looked in my rib protector, how it made me look like I was 280," he said. "It adds 10 pounds... plus the camera."
Kellogg will be back on the sideline at the start of this week's game at Michigan. Pelini already has said Armstrong will start, unless Martinez is somehow able to play.
Pelini said Kellogg has never complained about his role.
"That's not easy to do, especially in this society today, which is kind of an 'I' society, 'what can you do for me?"' Pelini said. "He's what you look for in a teammate and I'm happy for him. That was a great moment for Ron."