- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
The 2012 football season didn't have the ending that La Porte (Texas) High School running back Keith Whitely envisioned.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound 2013 running back didn't get to see an ounce of the Texas state high school playoffs because of a season-ending knee injury suffered in his team's regular season finale.
But on Sunday, the recovering back put a positive end to his recruitment.
Whitely committed to UNLV at the conclusion of an official visit to campus this weekend.
"I liked it a lot," Whitely said before boarding a flight back to Houston on Sunday. "It's a place I want to be at. The people are nice and of course the city is too. But there's more to it than all the glamour and stuff. It's somewhere I want to play."
Whitely, who rushed for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games this season for La Porte, already had an idea that UNLV might be the place for him, even before taking the visit. It was his first official visit -- he had to cancel all his scheduled officials in December because his knee injury prevented him from getting on a plane -- but everything he saw was true to what UNLV receivers coach Cedric Cormier and head coach Bobby Hauck had told him.
The Rebels, whom Whitely picked over his other finalist, Texas State, won him over with their consistent pursuit of him, led by Cormier.
"I always knew I was their No. 1 priority," Whitely said. "They really wanted to get me. I just saw how they were recruiting me. ... They came to the house, came to the school, called me. I talked to the head coach. I guess what kind of sealed the deal was when the head coach came to the house. He's a real cool guy, seems like a guy I can play for, win for and at the same time go to UNLV and have a good education."
Whitely got some late attention from West Virginia, which extended him an offer after the season was over. Southern Mississippi has also been in contact and is considering offering and is hoping to bring Whitely in for a visit. Whitely also fielded offers from Colorado State, North Texas and San Jose State during the recruiting process. But Whitely seems happy with his decision.
"I never back off on my decision, so when I committed, I knew I was going to come here," Whitely said. "I'm probably not going to end up decommitting. There may be some schools that try to get me to and try to offer me but I know I'm going to stay here and come play here."
Whitely hopes to find himself on the two-deep going into fall camp next year with soon-to-be senior Tim Cornett projected to start and junior Bradley Randle declaring for early entry into the NFL draft. As for his knee, things are progressing well and he hopes to be at full speed by June or July.
"I'm seven weeks out of surgery, back in the weight room -- it's my first week in the weight room," Whitely said. "My knee, the doctor says, is looking real good. Just to keep pushing and start picking it up. I've been jogging and everything is going according to plan. By time I get into the summer, I want to already be running."
547dSam Khan Jr. and Max Olson