Case Keenum, the rocket-armed senior quarterback of the Houston Cougars, has been granted a rare sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA via the organization's provisions for medical hardship, and will return to his high-flying, fast-flinging ways for the 2011 season.
Keenum, you'll recall, went down with a torn ACL in the Cougars' bizarro loss to UCLA in Week 3, followed almost immediately by backup Cotton Turner. Houston crashed and burned behind their third- and fourth-string QBs, losing six of nine to close out the season. The injury dashed valid and well-buoyed hopes of a BCS-busting campaign: Along with Keenum, the Cougars returned three 1,000-yard receivers and two prolific young running backs.
Those six players will never see the same field together again, but Keenum's stars may be aligning for a record-obliterating 2011. The young gun threw for a mere 2,259 yards in 2007, followed by monstrous outputs of 5,020 and 5,671 yards in 2008 and 2009. He was responsible for 44 touchdowns in each of those last two seasons. 2008 saw him trail only Graham Harrell in total passing yards and yards per game, while hovering in the nation's top ten in passing efficiency. In 2009, out of Harrell's shadow, he led the nation in most passing statistical categories, while retaining his boffo TD-INT ratio.
Now, with a full season stretching out before him, Keenum has Timmy Chang's career passing record well within range. He needs less than 3500 yards to do it. And he'll be a trendy pick for a shot at the Heisman, too, if he comes back healthy.
The Cougars open the 2011 season with a home grudge rematch against UCLA on September 3.