CASE IN POINT
By Phillipe Craig
For a self-described "country boy," Houston quarterback Case
Keenum has made the most of his five-plus years living in the big
city. Be it rewriting the UH record books or helping put Cougars
football back on the map, he's done it all while staying true to his
West Texas roots.
He's also stayed true to what might be the biggest factor in his
continued success: his religious faith.
A devout Christian, Keenum has spent countless hours speaking out to other athletes, young people and anyone else who would
listen as part of his involvement in the Fellowship of Christian
Athletes. It's a part of his life he says has served him through highs
and lows, and one that started at an early age thanks to his father,
Steve, a life-long football coach and an avid member of FCA.
"When I was a kid growing up around college athletes, I looked
up to them and wanted to be just like them," the younger Keenum
said. "I wanted to be just like the guys on my dad's football team.
The coolest thing is that a lot of those guys weren't only real good
food football players, but they were really good men of God.
"Growing up in (FCA) and being able to have it here (at UH),
I'd say that it's a big part of who I am today."
And despite what Cougars fans and national experts say about
who Keenum is — most would assume the typical college athlete
who just happens to be on the verge of setting the NCAA career
passing mark — Keenum knows that his identity as a successful
football player isn't the end-all, be-all.
"The biggest thing I've learned is that what you do, whether it's
banking, being a teacher or being a football player like me, that
doesn't make up who you are," he said. "That's not the most important thing because none of this is guaranteed.
"I play football, but that doesn't make up who I am."
That perceived identity was especially tested during the 2010
season, Keenum's fifth on campus as a redshirt senior. In the
Cougars' third game, a Sept. 19 loss at UCLA, Keenum suffered
a tear of his right ACL and was lost for the season. He, like many
college football fans, thought his career was over.
But in January 2011 while Keenum was still rehabilitating
his injured knee, the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility,
providing a light at the end of a long and arduous tunnel. That,
Keenum says, was something that again brought his faith to the
"There's no possible way I would've been able to get through
it if I didn't have a strong foundation in what I believe in and who I
am," he said. "It was tough early, but you've just got to hang on to
the idea that God's got a plan and it's better than any plan I've ever
made. You've just got to trust in that and believe that His plans are
to prosper us."
And while he has never been shy about his religious beliefs,
Keenum recognizes the elevated stature he now holds as a result
of his play on the field.
Since arriving at UH in 2006 as a quiet, lightly recruited undersized quarterback from Abilene's Wylie High School, Keenum has
established himself as one of the game's all-time passing greats,
and he uses his notoriety to spread a message long ago instilled in
"You can't be ashamed of who you are and what you believe
in," he says. "I'm not perfect by any means but I do my best, and
I think that's what all Christians should do. My being more open
has kind of sparked some conversations with people; I do get to do
interviews and talk about it. So it's a good way to relate to people.
Like with myself, I had role models when I was a child, older athletes. So getting to be one for other kids out there is another huge
reason why I play the game and do what I do."
Photo by Newton Liu
 Inside the Pride.