Daniel “Danny” Kaelin’s recruitment has seen a bump recently, and so has his role at Bellevue West heading into his junior season.
In the last few weeks, Kaelin has visited Florida, Duke and Vanderbilt while camping at Clemson and Georgia. Last week, he unofficially visited Michigan State, one of the seven power conference offers he has received since the beginning of the year. The other offers are from Minnesota, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Rutgers, Duke and Kansas.
“It was really good. We got to see everything around campus,” Kaelin said of his most recent visit to East Lansing. “I had been up there in April so it was familiar.”
He spent time with Jay Johnson, the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, and met again with head coach Mel Tucker for about an hour.
Kaelin said the Spartans have offered six quarterbacks and are actively recruiting four. “I am one of those four in the class of 2024,” he said. “I talk to coach Johnson every week.”
In the last year Kaelin has physically matured, gaining 20-plus pounds. Now 6-foot-3, 195, he has enjoyed showing his growth physically and mentally.
He enjoyed the Georgia camp. He talks often with Vanderbilt. “I also liked Duke a lot and obviously Michigan State,” he said. “I’d say those four schools were the ones I’ve liked the most that I have been to this summer.”
Thursday, Kaelin will continue his summer travels when he heads to Iowa City to see the Hawkeyes. In July he plans to unofficially visit Minnesota, his second trip to Minneapolis in a year, and then Rutgers.
“I’m really excited to get to Rutgers and see what it’s like,” he said. “I talk with coach (Sean) Gleason often and my conversations with coach (Greg) Schiano have been good. I’m looking forward to meeting them in person.”
Florida State was the first school to offer (May, 2021) after Kaelin’s freshman season. Following a Quarterback Collective camp in Indianapolis, in-state school Nebraska followed hours later. Offensive coaching changes at both schools have left things in limbo as far as Kaelin’s offers to those schools.
“The new (Nebraska) offensive staff hasn’t really been in contact with me to this point,” Kaelin said.
Kaelin’s coach at Bellevue West, Michael Huffman, has been in touch with NU assistant Mickey Joseph, but “other than that they haven’t been in contact with me,” Kaelin said.
Despite the recruiting attention, Kaelin hasn’t been the full-time starter for Bellevue West in his previous two seasons. As a freshman he appeared in four games, passing for 59 yards and completing 9-of-18 passes. Last season, Kaelin shared the quarterback role with senior Luke Johanssen, appearing in 11 of 12 games and throwing for 693 yards and five touchdowns.
The scholarship offers early in his high school career have clearly gotten his name out there, but the attention has also brought some criticism and pressure to perform.
“I think I’ve handled it well. Especially starting the recruiting early and I didn’t worry too much about it last season, but this spring I’ve focused on (recruiting) a lot more,” he said. “This spring it kind of got a little overwhelming with the calls and texts from coaches. Now I’m starting to narrow it down. The attention it brings being an in-state guy and not starting last year brings pressure, but I don’t let it get to me. I’ve worked really hard with this.”
The 2022 season started with offseason workouts in the winter. He’s looking forward to the fall.
“This year should be a little different,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to playing football, having fun with my teammates and winning some games.”
He’s taken more of a leadership role knowing that he is the clear starting quarterback.
“It has helped me grow as a leader,” he said. “It just adds a lot more excitement to the season knowing I will get all of the reps and being a guy my team depends on. I am just ready to get the real season going.”