Houston Cougars Quarterback Case Keenum Granted Sixth Year by NCAA

Kris HughesCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2011

Case Keenum Will Return for a Sixth Year in 2011
Case Keenum Will Return for a Sixth Year in 2011Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

One of the early front-runners to bring home the 2010 Heisman Trophy prior to his season-ending knee injury, Houston Cougars quarterback Case Keenum was certain that his collegiate football career had come to an end.

Keenum's numbers and laundry list of awards over his first three seasons at the University of Houston certainly warranted the hype. In 2009, he threw for a total of 5,671 passing yards and 44 touchdowns, averaging over 400 yards passing per game.

Monumental statistics regardless of whom they came against or the perceived weaker level of competition in Conference USA.

Keenum was a finalist for multiple awards following the 2009-2010 campaign including the Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp and Manning. He entered the 2010 season as one of the nation's top quarterbacks as a part of the watch list for each of these same awards.

It truly seemed that the stars were aligned for Keenum to have the breakout season that would enter him into the national conversation as one of college football's best, and finally grab the attention of the NFL scouts which had seemed to elude him.

Unfortunately, what promised to be a historic season for Keenum and the Cougars was cut short as the quarterback suffered a season-ending knee injury on September 18 against the UCLA Bruins.

To add to the impact of this game, Houston backup quarterback Cotton Turner also suffered a season-ending injury, forcing Mike Sumlin to use his third-string quarterback for the remainder of the season and eventually leading to the Cougars' fall from the ranks of the top 25.

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Almost immediately, Case Keenum applied to the NCAA for a medical redshirt which would grant him an unusual sixth season of eligibility. Keenum had endured a shoulder injury in his senior season at Abilene Wylie, preventing him from being able to compete in his freshman season at Houston and prompting the NCAA to issue him his first medical redshirt.

Keenum's appeal to the NCAA was not unprecedented, but typically a sixth year of eligibility is not granted without serious consideration by college sports' governing body.

Whatever case the Cougars' senior signal-caller pled must have fallen on sympathetic ears, as the NCAA announced today its decision to allow Keenum a sixth year of eligibility.

If Case Keenum has fully recovered from his injury, and can stay healthy next season, look for him to again ascend as one of the nation's top quarterbacks and one to watch as the 2012 NFL Draft rolls around next spring.