Case Keenum spent six years at the University of Houston — and now he's going back to school.
Only now he'll essentially be attending Gary Kubiak quarterback school. The Houston Texans signed the ultra-popular hometown icon to its practice squad Saturday, giving Keenum a season to quietly get more used to the demands of an NFL offense and setting the stage for him to have a real shot at making an active roster next summer.
If everything goes right.
It's apparent that Kubiak believes Keenum is a more than worthy project.
There are no guarantees in the NFL of course — and no one needs to tell that to Keenum, who went undrafted despite racking up a string of NCAA records at Houston. Still, this isn't a bad first job out of college for any 24-year-old.
NFL practice squad players are guaranteed a minimum of $5,700 per week, which comes to $96,900 total if you stick the entire season. That's a far cry from the mega deals that some quarterbacks Keenum outplayed in college received (Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill landed a four-year $12.68 million contract with the Miami Dolphins for example).
Still, NFL practice squad money is nothing to sneer at.
NFL teams are free to pay their practice squad players more if they wish and a player on the squad is free to join another team's 53-man roster at any time.
Saturday's signing only technically assures Keenum three weeks of pay, but the Texans plan to keep him around for much longer than that. It's apparent that Kubiak believes Keenum is a more than worthy project.
"Obviously we think a lot of Case and what he’s done," Kubiak said.
Keenum wasn't given much of a chance to impress in the preseason as NFL veteran John Beck received the better opportunities and grabbed the third-string quarterback job. But that could change next summer, a summer that could determine Keenum's long-range NFL future.
Pigeonholed as a "system quarterback" and doubted because of his height (a pro quarterback-short 6 feet) and supposed limited arm strength, Keenum still faces plenty of future obstacles.
For now though, he gets to stay and learn in the city he fell in love with as a Cougar. Keenum and his wife Kimberly will not have to move out of their place on Kirby Drive. The quarterback in training will still have a short commute.
Keenum is not the only player with strong Houston ties to make the eight-man practice squad. Rookie tight end Phillip Supernaw, who played at Taylor High School in Katy, and Keenum's own Cougar teammate defensive end David Hunter, were also signed Saturday. Running back Jonathan Grimes, outside linebacker Delano Johnson, wide receiver Jeff Maehl and strong safety Eddie Pleasant round out the squad, which still has one open spot.
Keenum knows his spot for the near future. And it's still in Houston.
That's a win.