Wait…1 scholarship offer, undrafted, and still a 9-year NFL QB?
No NFL franchise, save the Texans with their practice squad invitation, took a chance on the University of Houston quarterback standout. Surely others teams around the NFL knew a kid set new records—but they likely questioned the lack of Power Five conference juggernauts Keenum faced to accrue those passing yards. Where potential lightning in a bottle talent appeared to then-Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, other NFL teams likely scoffed at the inferior strength of schedule of Keenum’s collegiate opposition.
But could it just be most NFL franchises overlooked a key detail to Keenum’s record setting accomplishment as the all-time collegiate passing leader? Namely, Keenum was not surrounded by blue chip, four- and five-star offensive recruits, the likes of which quarterbacks in places like Alabama and Ohio State enjoyed throwing passes to week after week. In other words, when pockets collapsed around him, when undersized, slower receivers had smaller passing windows with which a quarterback must thread the needle, Keenum answered the call.
Keenum is an everyman. He’s the consummate underdog that no professional better would ever predict to start an NFC Championship Game on merit at the onset of a season. There’s something Rocky-esque about him. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that he appears to be a decent human being.
Though he might be done as a starter in the league, he has a competitive chip on his shoulder the size of Chesapeake Bay. He is this era’s quarterback underdog, an undrafted free agent whom opposing coaches look through and past, but often fail to look inside of. And within Keenum’s right arm, on any given Sunday, there might be a two-hit shutout. His quiet, unassuming nature can veil his at times deadly accuracy throwing a football when others least expect it.
You might be thinking, Keenum, a contender? I’m not sure I’m on board with that sentiment. Well, in fairness, at the NFL level, Keenum has not always been surrounded with talented offensive lines, or supported by elite, shutdown defenses. And never did I write that he was Brady, Brees, or Rodgers. The 31-year-old Keenum may never receive another chance to be an NFL starter. But what he brought to the table as an undrafted free agent gunslinger is truly remarkable and gritty—physically and mentally.