STANFORD, Calif. - Keller Chryst has tons of talent, but also has heredity on his side. His father, Geep, played football and baseball at Princeton and is now the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers, while his mother Shelley played volleyball and basketball at Wyoming. His uncle Paul, played football at Wisconsin and is the head coach at Pittsburgh, and his grandfather George also played for the Badgers.
So, who is the best athlete in the family?
“My mom,” said Chryst, a strong-armed 6-foot-5, 231-pound freshman quarterback from Palo Alto High School.
A prototype drop-back passer, Chryst moved from Charlotte, N.C., to Palo Alto in 2011 when his father left his job as tight ends coach and offensive quality control coach with the Carolina Panthers to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the 49ers. Harbaugh played high school football at Palo Alto High, a 50-yard spiral from Stanford Stadium, and the arrival of Keller was a boon to the Vikings’ program.
In three years, he established or tied 11 school records by throwing for 7,326 yards and 85 touchdowns. Among his school marks are most games started at quarterback (35) and most wins (23), the latter a record he shares with current Cardinal inside linebackers coach Peter Hansen.
Chryst also established Paly marks by throwing three or more touchdowns in 14 games; four or more in 10 games; and at least one scoring pass in 35 consecutive games. He finished his high school career with a 110.0 quarterback rating.
Not surprisingly, he was one of the most highly-sought prep quarterbacks in the country, although early on in the recruiting process he narrowed his choices to Stanford, USC and Pittsburgh.
“I didn’t show much interest in other schools,” said Chryst. “I really focused in on a few schools from the start.”
And he wasn’t looking to broaden his horizons.
“No, because I’ve lived all over the place before and have pretty much seen the entire country,” Chryst said. “I wasn’t looking to explore. I’ve only lived here for three years.”
Chryst began attending Stanford games as soon as he moved to the area and went to almost every home game. At Palo Alto High School, he was tutored by volunteer coach Steve Bono, who played collegiately at UCLA and then professionally with the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
“He helped me tremendously, especially coming from a West Coast offense,” said Chryst. “It really helped me develop as a player.”
Naturally, his father has played a big role as well.
“He’s usually been busy with football during the season, but sometimes in the offseason we’ll go out there and throw a little bit,” Chyrst said. “He’ll maybe throw me a point or two if we’re watching a re-run of a game. He’s made an impact in my life in more things than football.”
Now that Chryst has spent time on The Farm and gotten to know his teammates – young and old – he knows he made the right decision.
“The guys here are different than any other place I’ve been,” he said. “From the start when we had our official visit, we all just kind of clicked. Just the people that we are, the kinds of goals we have and what we stand for in general. We all have our separate things that we do, but we all kind of come together as a puzzle.”
Chryst estimates he can throw a football about 60 yards in the air, but has never been measured.
“You never really have to throw it more than 50 yards in game, so I don’t really know,” Chryst said.
He said the best part of playing the game is the camaraderie that you develop with your teammates.
“Just going places with them, battling with them,” he said. “When you sweat and bleed with them, it makes you bond as a team. When you fight together and are all focused on one goal and you have an enemy lined up against you, it’s a great feeling.”
Chryst is excited to play in front of family and friends, but isn’t going to rush the process. He said pressure only exists if you "think about the pressure."
“I’m just going to take it day by day,” said Chryst. “I’ve got a bunch to learn.”