INDIANAPOLIS — Two years ago, Case Keenum walked into a local tryout for the Houston Texans hoping to get a chance in the NFL.
On Sunday, he might represent the Texans’ last chance to salvage this season.
Keenum will make just the second start of his nascent pro career as Houston (2-5) desperately attempts to keep pace with the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) in the AFC South.
“We definitely feel like a win is very important, especially this week and especially against a divisional opponent and especially one that is in the elite of our division,” Keenum said during a conference call at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Wednesday. “We know this is a big game for us against a very talented team, a very talented defense that’s coming in. They’re playing well. They’ve won some big games against some good teams as well. We know we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The fact that work will be done by Keenum is a surprise to say the least. But the quarterback has made a career out of proving his critics wrong.
In 2004, he led Wylie High School in Abilene, Texas, to its only state football championship. But two years later, colleges did not come rushing to his door.
Baylor, North Texas and UTEP showed some level of interest, but only the University of Houston made a scholarship offer. Keenum was recruited to play for the Cougars by Art Briles, the head coach who went on to mentor Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III at Baylor.
But he had his best seasons at Houston playing under head coach Kevin Sumlin, now the mentor for Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.
Keenum left college as the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards (19,217), touchdowns (155) and completions (1,546). But NFL scouts were scared off by a torn ACL that cost him all but the first three games of the 2010 season and earned him a fifth-year medical redshirt season in 2011.