Daniel Kaelin and his family were making a quick celebratory trip on Monday night when more good news came in.
Kaelin, who just finished his freshman season at Bellevue West, had picked up his first scholarship offer, seemingly out of the blue, from Florida State.
Yeah, that Florida State. The family decided the only proper way to celebrate was ice cream.
On the way, he got a call from Bellevue West head coach Michael Huffman, saying Kaelin needed to call Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.
The Kaelin Mobile pulled over to the side of the road. The Huskers, too, had a scholarship offer waiting at the end of a phone call with Verduzco.
Just like that, Kaelin has a pair of offers from Power Five schools before his sophomore season begins and before he's ever started a game for the Thunderbirds.
"It's hard to describe. It's surreal," Kaelin told the Journal Star. "I've put in so much work for this and it was just an average day, but it turned crazy all of a sudden."
Huffman, for his part, is only mildly surprised that Kaelin started picking up offers so early.
Clearly, though, the coach thinks his rising sophomore signal-caller is special.
"It doesn't surprise me at all because he is a gifted human, mentally, schematically and physically," Huffman told the Journal Star on Monday night.
Kaelin appeared in four games last year, all in backup duty, completing 9 of 18 passes for 59 yards.
Without extensive playing time, Kaelin put himself on the national radar screen by participating in and excelling at the Quarterback Collective event in Indianapolis. One of the coaches from that camp got in touch with him on Monday to tell him that FSU offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham wanted to talk to him, which led to his first offer.
"It's definitely helped a lot, not only getting my name out there but just the connections and the people I've met," Kaelin said of attending the Quarterback Collective camp. "It's been really cool. That was the first one I've been to, and it's cool because they integrate NFL coaches and some of the best private quarterback coaches in the country, and then you've got dudes from all across the country that are top dogs and just really good players."
Kaelin is quickly turning himself into one of those top players on the recruiting scene for his class.
"Coaches like how fluid his arm is," Huffman said. "The crazy thing is, schematically, he could have started last year, but the guy ahead of him had a stronger arm. The things that you can and cannot control. Well, Danny grew 3 inches and gained 20 pounds and he went from being just kind of a normal ninth grader to now a tall, gangly 10th grader. So, as he continues to move into that, there's just a lot of both tangible and intangible things you like."
The Thunderbirds also have that returning starter, Luke Johannsen, back for this fall, meaning it's going to be quite a competition for the starting job.
"I told Danny tonight, I said, 'I'm proud of you, I'm super-excited for you. Never forget this night. But tomorrow morning, 6:45 a.m., it just doesn't matter,'" Huffman said.
Kaelin is young, but he’s already the second class of 2024 player from Bellevue West that the Huskers have offered a scholarship to. NU is also in the early mix for wide receiver Daevonn Hall, who caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown as a freshman and took his only carry of the season 84 yards for a touchdown.
"When we first met, we were talking about it and it's crazy that it's actually happening," Kaelin said. "Daevonn is my guy. He was happy for me."
Meet Nebraska football's 2021 recruiting class
DB | MARQUES BUFORD
DB | KOBY BRETZ
TE | JAMES CARNIE
RB | GABE ERVIN
TE | THOMAS FIDONE
LB | MIKAI GBAYOR
WR | KAMONTE GRIMES
QB | HEINRICH HAARBERG
WR | SHAWN HARDY II
OLB | WYNDEN HO'OHULI
LB | RANDOLPH KPAI
LB | CHRIS KOLAREVIC
OL | HENRY LUTOVSKY
LB | SETH MALCOM
WR | LATRELL NEVILLE
OL | TEDDY PROCHAZKA
TE | AJ ROLLINS
DE | JAILEN WEAVER
DB | MALIK WILLIAMS
OL | BRANSON YAGER
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