Team captain. All-American. Throughout his career with the Bobcats, Noah Keller has earned a variety of titles.
When Keller finishes his collegiate football career next fall, he will begin a journey to add another title to his name: doctor.
Keller, a senior studying biology at Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Bobcats’ starting middle linebacker, plans to pursue a medical career after his football tenure ceases.
“I came to college and didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Keller said. “My first science classes were interesting and I realized I didn’t want to do something dumb that I didn’t want to do. … There’s been some hard times and some hard classes, but I definitely like the challenge.”
The perfect plan took a hit on Sept. 18 against Ohio State, when Keller went down with a season-ending foot injury. As a senior going into his final season, he planned on starting his medical career after the year if he didn’t move on to the NFL.
On track to graduate at the end of this school year, Keller spread out his courseload so he could finish off his Bobcat career strong after his original senior year was cut short. The thought of leaving for medical school instead of coming back as a redshirt hardly crossed his mind, he said.
“I definitely wanted to finish up my career here,” Keller said. “Last season didn’t go how I wanted it to. I could have possibly left to pursue it, but with the way it ended, I didn’t want to leave.”
Keller’s interest in medicine stems from the multiple doctors in his family, though he said he came to Ohio unsure of what exactly he wanted to study. He always excelled in math and sciences and found himself drawn to biology after taking prerequisite classes as a freshman.
Keller has narrowed down his specialization options to radiology, dermatology and anesthesiology but isn’t ruling out the possibility of a change once he arrives in medical school.
With a 3.4 GPA, Keller uses both his study habits and understanding of human biology to help him out on the football field.
“You see a lot of guys panting and breathing ridiculously hard after running a lot,” Keller said. “Throughout my exercise physiology classes, I’ve learned that you’re supposed to breathe in slow if you want to recover. I’ve picked up on a lot of little things like that.”
Whether it’s during workouts, practices or games, Keller applies what he has learned in the classroom to help him be a more effective player.
“He makes checks for us and recognizes formations and makes sure if there’s any confusion that we’re lined up properly,” said defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow. “He’s like a quarterback out there.”
His foot injury kept him off the field for most of last season; in the meantime, he has begun studying for the MCAT through Kaplan Test Center and plans to take it later this spring or in the summer.
Because medical schools require students to attend in the fall, Keller will take time off after his redshirt senior year to figure out his plans.
Most schools allow students to put a hold on their acceptance to pursue military service and other things that would postpone their admission until they can return. If his dream of playing professional football transpires, Keller plans to use that course of action before he can return.
“That’s the ideal world,” Keller said. “That I’d end up playing in the NFL and then go to med school for a little bit. That’d be a dream come true for me.”