Two of the top quarterbacks in the history of the University of Houston (UH) will compete for a spot in the Super Bowl this Sunday:
Case Keenum will lead the Minnesota Vikings into Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, with former UH quarterback-turned-wide-receiver Greg Ward, Jr., on the opposing sideline.
Keenum rewrote the college football record books during his time as a Cougar, setting the all-time marks for career pass completions, passing yards, passing touchdowns and 300-yard passing games.
Despite his achievements, he started out his pro career in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans, where he spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad.
Just as Keenum left the Cougars, a nearly-as-decorated freshman named Greg Ward, Jr., stepped onto the Calhoun Street campus:
Ward started out as a backup quarterback behind John O’Korn, and, when O’Korn transferred to Michigan, Ward took over the offense.
On New Year’s Eve 2015, Ward led the Cougars to a 38-24 victory over the #9 ranked Florida State Seminoles in the Peach Bowl; just like Keenum, Ward spent his rookie season on the Eagles practice squad, only he spent his time as a backup wideout.
The matchup guarantees a former Cougars quarterback will make it to the Super Bowl. The winner will be the first UH QB to reach the biggest game in the sport and, possibly, become the first to capture the Lombardi Trophy.
While the tradition of UH quarterbacks is filled with record-setters at the college level, most of them did not experience the same success on Sundays:
- Rusty Clark was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1970 in the sixth round, but did not play.
- Andre Ware, the first UH QB to win the Heisman Trophy in 1989, had a disappointing career with the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars from 1990 to 1995.
- David Klingler, Ware’s successor at UH, threw 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his five-year NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders from 1992 to 1997.
- Chuck Clements played one game for the New York Jets in 1997.
- Kevin Kolb, the most successful UH QB as a pro, played parts of six seasons with the Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals. In 34 games from 2007 to 2012, Kolb completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, threw for over 5,200 yards, 28 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.