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Five things you might not know about Case Keenum

Henry Chisholm Avatar
March 13, 2018

The Broncos got their guy.

On Monday night, the news surfaced that Case Keenum will be signing with the Broncos when free agency officially opens on Wednesday morning.

By now you probably know that the 30-year-old Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC Championship as a backup quarterback and that his passing stats this season ranked in the top-third of the league. Maybe you know that he’s bounced around the NFL or that he entered the league as an undrafted free agent.

Here are five things that you may not know about Case Keenum:

1) He holds a ton of NCAA passing records

Don’t let his undrafted status fool you, Keenum was a star at the University of Houston.

The Texas product was a four-year starter for the Cougars and in his college career, he posted a 160.6 passer rating while throwing for nearly 20,000 yards, 155 touchdowns and just 46 interceptions. He also ran for 23 touchdowns.

Keenum still holds NCAA records for most completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns responsible for. He was also a two-time Sammy Baugh Trophy winner as the nation’s best passer, and a two-time Conference USA MVP.

2) He’s been through it all

Despite starting 42 games and winning a state championship at Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas, the heart of the high school football world, Keenum only received one Division-I scholarship offer. He was recruited by Baylor, UTEP and North Texas, but only Houston offered him.

As mentioned above, Keenum was really, really good at Houston, but that wasn’t enough to get him drafted. Most analysts projected him as a late-round pick in 2012, but he ended up falling out of the draft and signing as a college free agent with the Texans. Some analysts believed he was the product of a spread offense and his skills wouldn’t translate to the NFL, but most dismissed him solely because of his slight, 6-foot-1 stature.

From there Keenum fought for a practice squad spot in the Texans’ training camp before becoming a starter partway through his second NFL season. He struggled, losing all eight of his starts and completing 54.2% of his passes. He was waived before the next season started.

St. Louis claimed him off waivers, but demoted him to their practice squad when they brought in Ryan Mallett. The Texans signed him back and later traded him to the Rams for a seventh-round pick that offseason, where he’d stay until last offseason. The best completion percentage he posted before heading to Minnesota was 60.9%.

Maybe he’s a one-hit wonder, but Keenum has already been through it all.

3) He’ll do whatever it takes to win

You might say Keenum is gritty.

An ESPN feature by Ian O’Connor published just before the NFC Championship game detailed how his grit resulted in a relay race win.

“I remember getting the baton in third or fourth place, and I was going to catch the guy in front of me no matter what,” Keenum told O’Connor. “I was being ultracompetitive because that’s just who I am.”

Keenum caught him, but it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t dive across the finish line head-first, skinning his arms and legs on the track.

“He just flat dove like Superman,” Hugh Sandifer, Keenum’s high school football coach, told O’Connor. “It was insane. You just don’t see people dive at the finish line. I think we knew then that he was going to be special.”

4) Mike Zimmer thinks “he’s got big balls.”

Despite Keenum’s production last season, Mike Zimmer was consistently non-comittal about the quarterback’s future in the Twin Cities. He wouldn’t name Keenum the starter when Teddy Bridgewater returned from injury in November, and according to The Athletic’s Chad Graff last week, Zimmer was concerned about bringing him back in 2018 because he wondered “Is he the guy who played for the Rams, or is he the guy who played for us?”

Zimmer seems to have his doubts about Keenum’s future value, but he understands that the 30-year-old is going to do what it takes to win.

“The thing I like most about Case is he’s got big balls,” Zimmer told ESPN’s Courtney Cronin in February. “He’s not afraid, he’s going to pull the trigger and he’s going to play like that. That’s a good thing.”

5) He inspires people to work for him

In January, Keenum penned an essay for The Players’ Tribune. Inside, he relived his high school glory days, told the story of an unexpected interaction with a reporter and explained why he has a chip on his shoulder.

He also wrote about his lack of snow-shoveling skills. After growing up in Texas and bouncing from Houston to St. Louis to Los Angeles once he made it to the league, the quarterback knew nothing about how to keep his driveway in shape. When Keenum’s neighbors saw him struggling to maintain it, they shoveled for him.

“At any given time, you might be driving down my street, and you’ll see some of my neighbors — could be John, or Richard and DeDe, or Kimberly and Tim, or their kids, Roan and Peyton — outside my house, spreading salt or shoveling snow,” he wrote. “Maybe it’s out of the goodness of their hearts … or maybe they just want their QB focusing on football right now … or maybe it’s some combination of those things — I guess we’ll never know.”

The snow in Denver might not be as heavy as Minnesota’s, but the Keenums would almost certainly accept a little snow-removal help from Broncos fans next winter.

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