Published Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 11:04 pm
Chatelain: Waiting game pays off for RK3

LINCOLN — Ron Kellogg III pumped his fist. He raised his hands. He jumped into Jeremiah Sirles' arms. He hugged Joe Ganz.

You get only one chance to celebrate your first career touchdown pass. Kellogg did his best.

Husker offensive coordinator Tim Beck was not impressed, describing the celebration as “a little lame.”

“I guess he was expecting cartwheels,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg's stomach was busy doing gymnastics.

Idaho State will be quickly forgotten by fans. The result will barely register with pundits and voters. But not one has walked in Kellogg's cleats.

Prior to this month, the fourth-year junior from Omaha Westside had not played a single down of college football. Not one. And prior to Saturday's 73-7 win, he had not thrown a single pass.

“To go out there and actually perform was something that I've been dreaming about since I could walk,” Kellogg said.

RK3, as teammates call him, is the epitome of patience and persistence. He might be something even more.

Backup quarterbacks have received little attention — and almost zero snaps — since Cody Green transferred following the 2010 season. But if Taylor Martinez rolls an ankle or breaks a finger, guess who steps into the spotlight?

Pelini said true freshman Tommy Armstrong is co-No. 2 — Nebraska doesn't want to burn his redshirt in garbage time. But Beck said Kellogg has the edge, redshirt or not.

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Kellogg definitely has the genes to succeed. His dad, Ron Kellogg Jr., was a basketball legend at Omaha Northwest in the early 1980s before shining at Kansas — he started in the 1986 Final Four.

Kellogg III grew up answering the same question over and over: Are you related to the basketball star? He enjoyed the attention, but he had a different passion than his dad.

“I liked basketball in high school,” said Kellogg, 6-foot-1, “but I got called for too many charges.”

At Westside, he was an honorable mention all-state quarterback. He had a scholarship offer to Northwest Missouri State. He chose to walk on at Nebraska, the program he grew up cheering. A big reason was Ganz.

Ganz, now an NU graduate assistant who coaches quarterbacks, stood on the sideline for three seasons in Lincoln. Nobody gave him a chance. When he took over for Sam Keller late in 2007, fans wondered: Why wasn't this guy playing all along?

Kellogg doesn't want Martinez to fail or to get hurt — they're good friends. But he finds himself in a similar position to Ganz. He's an underdog who's waited a long time for an opportunity.

Kellogg was surprised when he beat out scholarship quarterbacks Brion Carnes, Armstrong and Bronson Marsh in fall camp. Coaches liked his prolific arm — he might be the best passer on the team — and his knowledge of the offense.

“He's like having another coach on the sideline,” Beck said.

Kellogg got a lot of mental reps the first three games, he said. But to play six possessions and establish a rhythm Saturday helped his confidence.

He threw an interception on his first possession, a play Bo Pelini said was “as much the receiver's fault as it was his.”

“I told Coach Beck I was sorry,” Kellogg said.

In the second half, he got another shot, leading the Huskers on three scoring drives, including his TD pass to Steven Osborne.

He could try to articulate his emotions after the touchdown, Kellogg said, but “we'll be here for an hour.”

After the game, Kellogg grabbed his cellphone in the locker room and found dozens of text messages, including “like 18” from his father, who was watching from Omaha.

Growing up, Dad and Mom made him familiar with an old axiom. They repeated it over and over, hoping Ron would develop patience and persistence. Good things, they said, come to those who wait.

Kellogg thought of that line Saturday night.

“Wow,” he said, “my parents were right.”

Contact the writer:


* * *

>> Video: NU coach Bo Pelini at the postgame press conference:

>> Video: NU's Taylor Martinez at the postgame press conference:

>> Video: NU's Rex Burkhead at the postgame press conference:

>> Video: NU's Eric Martin at the postgame press conference:

>> Video: NU's Ron Kellogg III at the postgame press conference:

>> Video: NU-Idaho State postgame analysis:

>> Video: Nebraska students stampede for seats at the NU-Idaho State game:

Contact the writer: Dirk Chatelain    |   402-649-1461    |  

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments.



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