2014 Outlook Defensive end Joe Keels was one of three scholarship players to join the Nebraska program in January. Keels was regarded as one of the top defensive line prospects in the junior college ranks in 2013. The 6-3, 250-pound Keels spent the majority of spring with the second defensive unit behind projected starters Randy Gregory and Greg McMullen, and Keels should push for time in the Huskers’ regular defensive line rotation.
Keels earned a spot on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in his first semester at Nebraska.
Before Nebraska (Bradford HS/Highland (Kan.) CC) Keels was a dominant performer for Highland (Kan.) Community College in 2013, where he played for Coach Ryan Held, a member of the Nebraska program in the early 1990s, and a former graduate assistant for the Huskers. Keels finished the season with 20 tackles and 2.5 sacks in nine games, helping Highland to a 6-4 record. He was a second-team All-Jayhawk League selection at defensive end. Keels starred at Rochester (Minn.) College in 2012, recording 12.5 sacks. Keels began his college career at the North Dakota College of Science in 2011, but sat out as a medical redshirt.
Keels is a native of Kenosha, Wis., and attended Bradford High School as a senior before moving on to junior college. At Bradford High, Keels helped his team to a trip to the Division 1 state semifinals as a senior in 2010. Keels finished the season with 65 tackles, including eight sacks. Keels spent his first three years of high school at Mt. Zion (Ill.) High School. Keels was ranked as one of the top five defensive linemen in the junior college ranks by 247 Sports, while 247 Sports and Rivals.com also listed him among the top 30 junior-college prospects regardless of position. Keels chose Nebraska over Wisconsin and had dozens of other offers including Alabama, Arizona, Boise State, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Penn State, USC and West Virginia.
Personal Keels is the son of Reynell Jones-Gray, and he was born on June 13, 1993. He is a sociology major. He earned a spot on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in the spring of 2014.