Houston quarterback Case Keenum makes his return from a torn ACL this season, ratcheting up expectations for the Cougars. Expectations are high for him as well.
Phil Steele has Keenum as a fourth-team selection on his newly released All-America teams, right behind Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Andrew Luck of Stanford and Kellen Moore of Boise State. This is a clear indication that there is some unfinished business left for Keenum, who remains on pace to break the NCAA career passing mark -- should he stay healthy.
Keenum needs 3,487 yards to break the mark of 17,072 yards set by Timmy Chang of Hawaii from 2000-04. There is another mark that Keenum has a chance to surpass -- career touchdown passes. Graham Harrell of Texas Tech has the record of 134. Keenum needs 28 to break that mark. Considering he threw for more than 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns in each of his two full seasons as a starter, those records seem to be in jeopardy.
So Steele putting Keenum on his fourth team is his preseason projection that Keenum will get those records. Plus, there is plenty of uncertainty at quarterback around the country, and Keenum has delivered in bunches so this choice makes sense if you are projecting a healthy season. Steele also lists go-to Houston receiver Patrick Edwards on his fourth team, so his expectation is a big year for Edwards as well.
As for some of the other non-AQ players listed:
I agree with the selection of Moore on the third team. Teammate Nate Potter made the first team at tackle while Billy Winn made the second team on the defensive line.
No-brainers: TCU linebacker Tank Carder, Tulsa kick returner Damaris Johnson and Southern Miss kicker Danny Hrapmann on the first team; Toledo kick returner Eric Page on the second team. BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds made the second team. I think he is going to be either a first- or second-team selection this year.
Surprises: FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton made the third team, quite an impressive accomplishment considering he is known more for being an all-purpose player. Steele must think the Panthers have a chance to win another Sun Belt title and that Hilton will have an even better year than 2010, when he was Sun Belt Player of the Year. I think Louisiana tight end Ladarius Green has the potential to be better than a fourth-team selection. Same for Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi and TCU linebacker Tanner Brock, both fourth-team selections. Another interesting choice: UCF kick returner Quincy McDuffie on the fourth team. McDuffie has made huge strides in special teams, but the Knights are eager to get even more out of him.
Omissions: You can certainly make a case for San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman, the top freshman back in the country last season with 1,532 yards. Same for Boise State running back Doug Martin, one of the most underrated players in the nation.