Six years of school soccer that produced probably the most prolific statistics in historical past.
Undrafted, launched 3 times and traded as soon as as a professional.
Began and gained a recreation six days after being signed off one other staff’s apply squad.
Waited three weeks into 2017 free company – an interminable time – earlier than discovering a new workforce.
Threw the cross that delivered his workforce a miracle playoff win in January.
Case Keenum has packed all of these experiences right into a journey that began as a seventh-grade scholar in Abilene, Texas, and twisted and turned its approach to Houston, St. Louis, Houston (once more), St. Louis (once more), Los Angeles, Minneapolis and now Denver.
However when he walks onto the Broncos’ apply area Saturday morning, Keenum will encounter a new NFL expertise, six years after getting into the league.
He would be the man. Lastly.
He would be the chief. Finally.
Keenum, 30, shouldn’t be protecting the spot heat till a rookie is prepared, not competing towards a fellow veteran for the opening-day task, not preventing simply to make the roster. He controls his standing and isn’t topic to extenuating circumstances akin to one other participant’s damage, the perceived potential of a first-round draft decide or teaching turmoil.
“The NFL is not fair – there are a lot of great players that never got a shot,” Keenum advised The Denver Publish. “I’ve had a shot – I’ve had multiple shots so I can’t complain about that. And every situation I’ve been in, it’s led me to here.”
Keenum’s effectivity as Sam Bradford’s alternative in Minnesota a season in the past led him to the Broncos. When Bradford went down with an damage, Keenum stepped up, and led the Vikings to the NFC championship recreation.
The Broncos and Keenum wanted one another when free company opened in March.
The Broncos have been determined for quarterback stability after utilizing Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch (mixed 22 interceptions) throughout final yr’s 5-11 train-wreck. And Keenum wanted the Broncos. He went 12-Four for the Vikings final yr, who responded by turning their again on him and signing Kirk Cousins.
A lot is at stake for the Broncos, who haven’t skilled consecutive dropping seasons in 45 years. One other offensively impotent season and sweeping modifications can be anticipated.
And far is at stake for Keenum, who has 40 profession common season/playoff begins. Play like he did final season and he can begin properly into his 30s, overcoming the slights of groups who thought he was too brief (listed at 6-foot-1) and didn’t have the rocket arm that many superficial coaches and executives favor no matter a participant’s intangibles.
Those that have been at Keenum’s aspect are betting on him pacing a turnaround in his latest setup.
“Being the guy does wonders for a quarterback,” stated Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, Keenum’s play-caller on the College of Houston. “I think you’re going to see his play continue to elevate because of that comfort level.”
Around soccer ‘forever’
Following a 24-year profession teaching soccer at the highschool and school degree in Texas, Steve Keenum is an space director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Abilene, about 180 miles west of Dallas alongside Interstate 20.
Steve and Susan Keenum didn’t permit their solely son (they’ve two daughters) to play deal with soccer till the seventh grade. Steve stated Case performed a “little” flag soccer in elementary faculty, however baseball was his sport.
“He’s always had a little bit of a competitive edge to him,” Steve stated in a telephone interview. “Probably the first place you saw that seriously was when he was playing Little League baseball. He was a pitcher, he was competitive and he was pretty good at it.”
Steve by no means formally coached Case in soccer, however their conversations established the inspiration of Case’s famend perseverance and soccer instincts.
“When he was young, I would bring film home to watch and he would sit there and watch it with me,” Steve stated. . “He’s been around it forever. I taught him how to throw a ball and shoot baskets, but (later), we spent more time talking about things that were ancillary to the physical part – the mental part was what we spent our time talking.”
At Wylie Excessive Faculty in Abilene, Keenum went 31-11 and gained a state championship. However he acquired only one school scholarship supply – from then-Houston coach Artwork Briles. The shortage of curiosity was probably a product of his peak and the unfold offense he excelled in. Keenum was redshirted in 2006 and had 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2007.
Briles left for Baylor and was changed by Kevin Sumlin. One among Sumlin’s hires was Kingsbury, who was a record-setting quarterback for Texas Tech, performed 5 years professionally and was starting his teaching profession. Kingsbury was an entry-level coach in 2008-09 and served as co-coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2010-11, Keenum’s ultimate school seasons.
Kingsbury and Keenum clicked immediately.
“I’ve had a lot of great coaches – Kingsbury, though, holds a special place,” Keenum stated. “He’s a great coach who works his absolute tail off and you know he’s putting everything he’s got into it and he cares about every single player. I appreciated that and what he stood for. And I still appreciate our relationship.”
Stated Kingsbury: “We were both football junkies. There was just a vibe and level of respect from both sides that worked and he always wanted to know more and wanted to get better. As a young coach, that really helped me.”
Within the third recreation of the 2010 season, Keenum sustained a torn ACL and cartilage injury that required two surgical procedures.
“The rehab for that was excruciating,” Steve Keenum stated. “Of all the things, (the injury) is one of the toughest, if not the toughest thing, he’s had to go through.”
Granted a sixth yr of eligibility due to the damage, Keenum threw 48 touchdowns and 5 interceptions throughout a 13-1 season. Regardless of an NCAA document 1,546 completions, 155 touchdowns and 19,217 passing yards, Keenum was not drafted as he didn’t verify the NFL bins (measurement, arm power, pro-style offense expertise) and signed with the Texans as a free agent.
Perception by no means wavered
For example his erratic alternatives, listed here are the opening dates of Keenum’s first begins: Oct. 20 (2013), Dec. 22 (2014), Nov. 22 (2015), Sept. 12 (2016) and Sept. 17 (2017). His solely opening-week begin was two years in the past when he began the Rams’ first 9 video games earlier than the primary general draft decide, Jared Goff, changed him.
Usually, although, Keenum solely received to play when the starter was injured or struggling. He went Zero-Eight for Houston in 2013 when Matt Schaub was benched by future Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. The craziest expertise was in 2014. The Texans misplaced Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage to accidents in the identical recreation and introduced Keenum again, signing him off St. Louis’ apply squad. He began six days later and helped beat Baltimore. In 2015, he changed a benched Nick Foles.
Annually introduced a new offensive system, new teammates to work with and considerations about his position.
“I could empathize with what he was going through,” Kingsbury stated. “Whenever you’re minimize and bounce around, the psychological toughness to maintain your thoughts in the sport and hold believing you are able to do it and play at a excessive degree is unimaginable.
“Through his journey, I just wanted him to always know that I knew how good he was because I had seen what he had done. I knew it was just a matter of time that, if he was able to hang in there and keep working and keep believing, he would break through. And he obviously did.”
In March 2017, the Rams’ new teaching employees didn’t re-sign Keenum, leaving him a free agent. Schaub, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith all resigned or discovered new houses earlier than Keenum landed in Minnesota.
“Kept waiting for a phone call and it never came,” Keenum stated. “Just the nature of the business.”
Graylan Crain, Keenum’s long-time agent, stated a number of groups ultimately confirmed curiosity however they selected the Vikings’ one-year, $2 million deal. Keenum turned the starter in Week 2 when Bradford was shelved with a knee damage. After a sluggish begin he helped Minnesota win 12 of its last 14 video games.
“We just went into attack mode and played with nothing to lose,” Keenum stated. “I had had a few shots (to start) and wasn’t sure if I was going to get another one and I just put everything I had into every day.”
Enjoying on an elite workforce, Keenum totaled 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in the common season, incomes the Vikings the NFC North title, a first-round bye and a house playoff recreation towards New Orleans.
Nice cash, higher alternative
“Gun Buffalo Right Key Left Seventh Heaven” will stay in Vikings’ lore.
Three lead modifications in lower than three minutes left the Vikings down 5 factors with 10 seconds remaining in in January’s NFC Divisional house playoff recreation towards New Orleans. Keenum took the snap from his 39-yard line and threw a move that Stefon Diggs caught on the Saints’ 34-yard line close to the appropriate sideline. Diggs scored the profitable landing as time expired because of security Marcus Williams whiffing the deal with.
Unbelievable to think about. Inconceivable to overlook.
Crain and Steve Keenum have been in attendance at US Financial institution Stadium and Kingsbury was watching at a restaurant in Dallas.
All of them keep in mind the place they have been, how they have been watching and what they have been feeling.
Crain: “Case had about 30 friends and relatives in town for the game and I was there with my wife and I couldn’t even watch. We left the stands and went into the club area (toward the end of the game). And the rest is history.”
Steve Keenum: “I watched it until (Diggs) crossed into the end zone and then my wife and I started jumping up and down and hugging. It’s still hard to believe. Did that really happen?”
Kingsbury: “The place was called Bottled Blonde and I was watching with a bunch of Saints fans. I lost my mind. An awesome, awesome deal. I think I bought a round for the entire bar. If anybody deserved to have a play like that happen, Case did.”
Case will always remember the play, both.
“If I do, everybody will remind me of it,” he stated.
The top play and win of Keenum’s NFL profession was adopted by a lopsided loss at Philadelphia the next week. In free company, Minnesota went all in with Cousins ($84 million assured) and the Broncos pounced equally shortly on Keenum (two-year, $36 million contract).
“It was incredible to have Denver come out and pursue me and want me,” Keenum stated. “I wanted to be here. It made sense for a lot of reasons, none of which were financial.”
Stated Crain: “This is all he’s wanted the whole time. He can finally lead. He’s excited to just play ball and not look over his shoulder.”
The cash was nice, taking Keenum to a new revenue stratosphere. However the alternative was higher. And through the offseason program he seized it, drawing common reward for his command of the playbook, presence in the huddle and his locker/assembly room management. Broncos coach Vance Joseph will enter his essential second season with no considerations concerning the standing of QB1.
“He just has that magic about him,” Kingsbury stated. “When you have his type of work ethic, guys will follow you. When you treat people the right way, guys will follow you. When you take the time to know your teammates, guys will want to play hard for you. Case checks those boxes.”
From Lubbock, Kingsbury shall be following the Broncos, identical to Crain will probably be from Houston and Steve Keenum can be from Abilene. They don’t seem to be going to overlook any of Keenum’s greatest probability.
“Any dad who gets to see their son do what they love and be good at it is a special thing,” Steve Keenum stated. “God has gifted him and he’s worked extremely hard to magnify that gift.”
By the numbers take a look at new Broncos quarterback Case Keenum
Some key numbers for Broncos quarterback Keenum
Report because the beginning quarterback at Wylie (Texas) Excessive Faculty.
Years Keenum spent collegiately at Houston – he redshirted in 2006 and acquired a sixth yr in 2011 following a 2010 knee damage.
Profession 300-yard passing video games in school, probably the most in NCAA historical past.
Profession school landing passes and passing yards for Keenum, additionally most in NCAA historical past.
Report as an NFL starter (common season and playoffs), together with 12-Four with Minnesota final yr.
The Broncos are Keenum’s fourth workforce, following Houston, St. Louis/Los Angeles and Minnesota.
Occasions Keenum has been launched: Aug. 2012 and Aug. 2014 by Houston and Oct. 2014 by the Rams.
Keenum’s completion proportion (325 of 481) final yr for Minnesota, second-best in the NFL amongst quarterbacks with a minimum of 200 makes an attempt.