Houston Cougars Football

Case Keenum: The Best College Football Player You've Never Heard Of?

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 17: Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars runs the ball against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Robertson Stadium November 17, 2007 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 35-28. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Calvin W BoazCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2009

If a quarterback throws for 5,000 yards in a season, but nobody pays any attention, does he still make a sound?

What sounds like a bizarre question is rooted in reality as Case Keenum had to fight for publicity last season with the likes of Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, and Matthew Stafford.

Even in his home state of Texas, Keenum was hidden behind Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, and Chase Clement.

Case Keenum finished his 2008 sophomore season with 5,020 yards passing and 44 touchdowns. He only threw 11 interceptions in 589 pass attempts. Just for good measure, the 6'2'', 210 pound Keenum ran for 221 yards with seven touchdowns.

Keenum ranked ninth in the FBS in pass efficiency, second behind Harrell in passing yards per game, and first in total offense.

Despite all the statistics, the experts in Conference USA didn't quite know what to think of Keenum's performance. He was voted Conference USA Player of the Year but was only selected All-Conference USA second team.

Dating back to 2007, Keenum had a streak of 13 consecutive games of at least 300 yards passing snapped against Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on the last day of 2008.

The game also marked the only time he did throw for at least two touchdowns. On the bright side, Keenum did rush for two touchdowns in the bowl victory for Houston.

Known for his precision touch on short and medium-range passes, Keenum also has a sense for the dramatic.

After Houston trailed UAB at home 20-3 at halftime, Case Keenum orchestrated a 42-point explosion in the second half to defeat the Blazers 45-20. He led the Cougars on a 85-yard touchdown drive with 24 seconds remaining in a defeat of SMU 44-38.

Keenum threw for 480 yards and scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive with 41 seconds left in the game to complete a come-from-behind victory over UTEP 42-37.

Going into 2008, Case Keenum was not considered to be a prolific passer. Despite leading Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas to a state championship, he was only judged to be a two-star recruit by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

After being redshirted in 2006, Keenum showed glimpses of his ability in 2007 by being named Conference USA Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media.

Ironically, the play of Hoston's defense in 2009 will greatly affect the publicity that comes Keenam's way.

Keenum already has proved he can lead the Cougars from behind to win a game, but now he has to lead Houston to a victory over a big-time opponent. This season, Hoston plays at Oklahoma State and at home versus Texas Tech.

Last season, Case Keenum had a tremendous performance against Oklahoma State with 387 yards passing and four touchdown passes. However, the Cowboys were victorious 56-37. 

Keenum may look spectacular against those two Big 12 teams in 2009, but it is unrealistic to expect Houston to score 50 or more points in order to win those games. Houston's defense has to keep the games close so Keenum can perform his magic and pull off an upset.

Perhaps with a little help from his friends, Case Keenum will achieve the acclaim he richly deserves.

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