Imagine growing up in one state, going to college in that same state and then playing football in the NFL for that state. Not common right? Well, that would be Case Keenum’s football life in a nutshell.
Keenum was born in Brownwood, Texas. He stayed there as long as he could. He attended Wylie high school in Abilene, Texas. He started 42 games at Wylie and accumulated 6,783 yards and 48 touchdowns passing, On top of those lofty statistics he also racked up the rushing yards with 2,000 and 41 rushing touchdowns. He led his school to their only state championship in their history. While he seemed to be the total package at his school’s standards he was just one of a million at the position.
The Texas QB was rated a two-star QB prospect by Scout.com and Rivals.com. The uncertainty about Keenum showed as only the local Texas teams seemed to even take a look at Keenum or maybe they were the only ones who even knew about him. He received interest from University of Texas El Paso, Baylor, North Texas and Houston. He ended up committing to Houston which was surprisingly the only school out of the bunch to offer Keenum a scholarship.
During his freshman year in 2006 Keenum had to take a backseat behind former NFL starter in his own right — Kevin Kolb. Due to belief in Keenum, the coaches didn’t want to waste anytime and decided to redshirt the freshman.
Kolb went on to the NFL to be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and that left a QB competition tied up between the redshirt Freshman Keenum and the Sophomore Blake Joseph who had been waiting in the wings a year before him. Keenum ended up winning the battle due to his superior pocket presence and accuracy even despite the fact he was completely outmatched by Joseph’s athleticism and his superior arm strength.
In 2008 the next year Keenum would get into his groove throwing for over 5,000 yards in what was just the second time a Houston QB had accomplished such a feat. The guy before him? Not Kolb believe it or not it was David Klingler from the early 1990’s. Keenum would also go on to lead the Cougars to their first bowl game win since 1980, he would also end up winning Conference USA Player of the Year.
The next season Keenum would continue throwing for a massive tally of yards. Unfortunately though come season’s end the loss in the bowl game didn’t really help his season. Keenum’s Junior season ended up ending in horrible fashion, a torn ACL.
Keenum was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA and he led his team to their best season going undefeated and then unfortunately losing in the conference championship game to an Austin Davis led Southern Mississippi squad. Sure, Keenum wanted the championship but his time with Houston wasn’t over yet. He led Houston to a bowl game victory over Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl.
After his historic college career came to a close, Keenum signed with his hometown team in the form of the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent. Keenum was brought onto the practice squad but shortly after was promoted to the active roster. He would go on to start for the Texans in 2013 in relief for injured QB Matt Schaub and benched T.J. Yates. Head coach at the time Gary Kubiak was a big fan of Keenum.
The next season Kubiak was out and in was former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien. The Texans made a move to acquire the former Arkansas Razorback Ryan Mallett via a trade with the Patriots. Due to this acquisition Keenum was left as the odd man out and was waived, the Rams ended up claiming him off waivers. A couple months after the Rams made a trade for former first-round pick safety Mark Barron and to make room, Keenum was cut.
Keenum’s home team the Texans decided to bring him back after QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with an injury. He would go on to win two-consecutive games for the Texans. At the start of the offseason the Rams traded for Keenum back who O’Brien wasn’t going to give another shot to. The Rams before that traded former no.1 overall pick Sam Bradford for a Nick Foles. Jeff Fisher announced Foles as his starter and Keenum as his backup.
Foles started off with an impressive win in the home opener versus the Seattle Seahawks but shortly after became ineffective and turned the ball over at a consistent rate. Keenum came in to backup Foles but Fisher liked his calm, cool and collective nature about him in avoiding turnovers so he decided to trot Keenum out there for the rest of the season subsequently ending the Foles era. Keenum went 3-1 as a starter for the Rams and is the only Ram QB in the Fisher era to have a winning record starting for the Rams.
The St. Louis Rams ended up moving back to Los Angeles and right off the bat general manager Les Snead started to endorse Keenum as the starter. The Rams did their homework in the draft and shocked everyone in trading up to the no.1 overall spot for California QB Jared Goff.
Normally we already know the end to this story. Keenum gets pushed out of the way again by another younger QB and ends up bouncing arround the NFL as a priority backup. Right? Well actually no, and anyone who thought Goff would come in and push Keenum back to the end up of the line, apparently don’t know what Keenum has had to go through during the course of his career.
Keenum has opened up preseason games one and two as the starter and in that time he has gone 10-12 for 111 yards and a touchdown. The rookie? Well he has struggled but it’s been something his stats can hide if you didn’t watch the games. Keenum for now remains the starter and rightfully so.
The 26-year-old quarterback knows someday and maybe someday soon at that. Goff will be the Rams starter running out of the tunnel and soaking up the cheers. Today is not tomorrow and as of right now the job looks to pretty much have been won by Keenum. In a magnificent story from going for only locally recognized, to breaking passing records and after becoming the first starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams since 1994. It’s quite the big deal and Keenum has played it off like a professional should.
Regardless of the time he spends as the Rams starting QB, the coaches love him, the fans respect him as a professional and the players look up to him as a leader. Keenum has accomplished feats that one dreams about. There is no way Keenum knew as a freshman in high school that he would be competing and winning the competition for the starting quarterback job for the return home of the Los Angeles Rams. Then again when Keenum was a freshman there were probably L.A. Rams fans that never thought their team was coming back. Now it’s not the flashy storybook plot that Rams fans would have loved with Goff as the starter. For Keenum however it’s been a dream come true and a roller coaster ride he doesn’t want to get off of.