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Nate Kaeding: ‘Ken O’Keefe makes you better person, better player’


This news story was published on February 4, 2012.
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Mike Hlas, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

Nate Kaeding, the former All-America placekicker at Iowa, reached out to me Friday night to talk about Ken O’Keefe.

Kaeding, an 8-year veteran of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, offered strong positive opinions about the man who is leaving Iowa after 13 years as offensive coordinator, to become the wide receivers coach with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“I feel like sometimes people in his position are unjustly criticizied,” Kaeding said. “At (new Dolphins head coach) Joe Philbin’s press conference there was a thread of developing athletes and people. I think Ken really exemplified that as much as anyone I’ve been associated with.

“When it comes to developing people, he’s someone who puts in the extra time to make you a better person and a better football player.”

While O’Keefe was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, he had a role in special teams in working with the deep-snapper and the holder.

“Kickers are kind of vagabonds,” Kaeding said. “I had a close relationship with Coach (Reese) Morgan on the offensive line and answered directly to Coach (Lester) Erb.

“Coach O’Keefe is just a special guy. He recruited me out of (Iowa City) West High. Even after I was gone from Iowa, we developed a sort of player-coach relationship. I always come back to Iowa in the offseason, and he was one of those guys who has always been a good resource for me.”

As for why O’Keefe is making this move at this time, Kaeding cited Philbin coaching the offensive line for head coach O’Keefe (from 1990 to 1993) at Allegheny College. O’Keefe coached Philbin in football and baseball at Worcester (Mass.) Academy before that.

“I do know Ken loved it in Iowa, loved the community of Iowa City and the state,” Kaeding said.

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