Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

Mr. Speaker, there are entire professions devoted to analyzing football statistics. Yards after catch, passer rating, and value over replacement are just a few of the endless minutia studied at a scholar-like level. But at the end of the day, the only statistic that matters is winning. Today I am proud to pay tribute to one of the greatest winners in college football history, record-breaking quarterback Case Keenum from the University of Houston Cougars.

Case was born in Abilene, TX, with football in his blood. His father played for and would later go on to coach McMurry University in Abilene. Abilene is in the heart of west Texas--where football--especially high school football--is regarded by some as almost a religion. I attended Abilene Christian University and witnessed the local high school teams play hard on the gridiron during ``Friday Night Lights.''

Case Keenum won 31 games starting for Wylie High School, including the 2004 Class 3A Division 1 State Championship, Wylie's first and only time to win it all. He also earned varsity letters in baseball and track. After listening to other schools, he chose to attend the University of Houston.

Case was entangled in a competition for the starting position in 2007 after redshirting his freshman year. Keenum shared time and played in all 13 games that year, starting in 7. He won the starting position by the end of the season. It was his team now and he took the opportunity and ran. The 2008 season, Case's first full year as a starter, was a monumental one. He became the second quarterback in school history to pass for over 5,000 yards. The team beat two nationally ranked opponents and won its first bowl game in over 25 years. Case's star was on the rise and the University of Houston was back in the national conversation.

After all the success in 2008, the lights would be brighter on Case and the Cougars in 2009 than ever before, and they rose to the occasion. They defeated the then-#5 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys, which propelled the team in the AP rankings for the first time in over 20 years, and also upset Texas Tech and Mississippi State. They finished 10-4 and as Conference USA Western Division Co-Champions. Case had another impressive year, finishing with over 5,800 yards of total offense and 48 touchdowns.

2010 was to be the year that Case broke numerous NCAA Division 1 passing records and put the Houston Cougars into the Bowl Championship Series picture. The team was nationally ranked in several preseason polls and Case was awarded the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year. However, just three games into the season, Keenum tore his ACL. His season was done, and the team finished at 5-7. This was not the end that Case or Coach Kevin Sumlin and the Cougars envisioned.

Case was awarded a rare 6th year of eligibility for the 2011 season, allowing him to return to Houston and complete his college journey on his terms. No one could have predicted how successful Case and the team would be. The team once again started the season nationally ranked and would go on to finish 12-0 in the regular season. This was the first time in the 66-year history of the program that the team finished the regular season undefeated and untied. They closed out the year with a victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the TicketCity Bowl and a ranking of 18th in the AP Poll. The Houston Cougars led the nation with 8,387 yards of total offense while Case also led the nation with an impressive 5,631 yards of total passing.

Case's career numbers are staggering. He holds nearly every NCAA career passing record, including passing yardage, total offense, touchdown passes, total touchdowns, and completions. He won 41 of the 57 games that he participated. He won the Conference USA Most Valuable Player award twice, as he also did the Sammy Baugh Trophy, awarded to the nation's top college passer. This weekend he will be one of twelve players chosen to highlight their skills at the Super Bowl Sunday All Star Challenge in front of a worldwide audience.

Case's success was not limited to the gridiron. He was named to the Conference USA Academic All-Conference selection twice, thanks to his 3.8 GPA earned while working towards his graduate degree in Sports Administration. He was a five time Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll member.

Every so often, a player comes around that redefines what it means to be a leader. Thanks to his internal fortitude, Case Keenum played an important role in the rebirth of the University of Houston Cougar football team. He has shown that hard work and perseverance can turn a pretender into a contender. I proudly congratulate Case on all of his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck in the future.

And that's just the way it is.