TULSA, Okla. — Case Keenum watched last season’s college football championship game on television, transfixed.
Not by the Heisman Trophy skills of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. Not by the ruthlessness of Florida or the relentlessness of quarterback Tim Tebow.
Keenum kept dialing in on a small patch of real estate under Tebow’s eyes. Underneath the right eye, scrawled in white against a black backdrop, was “John.” Underneath the left eye, scrawled in white against the same black backdrop, was “3:16.”
“They talked about him having a million hits on Google for John 3:16 after the game,” Keenum said. “I thought that was just the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in my life. If I can get just one somebody to ask me about it or one person to read a verse, go look it up, that’s pretty cool.”
One piece of Keenum’s preparations for the Houston Cougars’ game against Tulsa tonight is to produce a fitting Bible verse to put on his eye black. Keenum was an avid churchgoer and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes long before he became the UH quarterback. Since the start of the season, Keenum has used his eye black as a way to spread the word.
“It’s a big part of his life, and it’s something he’s passionate about,” UH team chaplain Mikado Hinson said. “His deal is: Football is what I do; it’s not who I am.”
Keenum leads the nation in total offense. One of the subtle satisfactions of quarterbacking the nation’s No. 13 team is the accumulation of phone calls, e-mails and text messages from people asking about his Bible-verse selections. Somebody out there is watching. Somebody is out there in cyberspace, looking for something besides trouble.
“They have good stuff on there,” Keenum said, “not just bad stuff.”
Here is the eye-black Bible-ography of Keenum’s junior season.
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Sept. 5 —Romans 12:2: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Sept. 12 and Sept. 26 —Isaiah 40:31:But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
Oct. 10 —Ephesians 6:11: Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Oct. 17 —1 Samuel 16:7: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Oct. 24 —Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
“Oct. 31 —Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.