Kolb, who had committed to OSU and told Gundy that he would sign with the Cowboys in February, called on that January night to say that he was changing his mind. Kolb, an All-State quarterback from Stephenville (Texas) High School, told Gundy that he would instead be signing with Houston, which had just hired Texas Tech offensive coordinator Art Briles (who had been the head coach at Stephenville), and Briles had hired several Stephenville High coaches to join his staff. For Kolb it was goodbye Stillwater; hello Houston.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Kolb has enjoyed a stellar career at Houston, and Saturday night's game against Oklahoma State at Robertson Field on the Houston campus will be the 41st start of his career for the Cougars. He is the first Houston quarterback to ever throw for more than 10,000 yards in his career and is ranked in the career top 10 of every major passing and total offense category. Kolb also has his own web site – www.KolbHeismanWatch.com - that Houston has developed to promote him for the Heisman Trophy.
“I’m a Kevin Kolb fan,” said Gundy, whose Cowboys will try to slow down Kolb after he completed 27 of 31 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns in Houston’s 42-22 win over Grambling State this past weekend. “I’ve been bragging about him around here for three years, and saying that we’re at least recruiting the right guys.”
Gundy said Monday that Kolb is one of the top five recruits he has lost in his 16 years as a college coach. The phone call still haunts him nearly four years later.
“I can still remember where I was in my house when he told me,” said Gundy. “I was very upset. I was not upset at Kevin. I was upset that we lost him. I’m sure he thinks I was upset with him, but at that particular time I wasn’t because I understand recruiting. I know you get some, and you lose some. Ultimately the young man has to make a choice of where he wants to go for his future.”
Gundy said he was upstairs in his study when Kolb made the phone call. “We didn’t have any furniture in there and I was walking around in there and was mad, and was waking the kids up after I found out he was going the other direction,” said Gundy, who can now laugh about his misfortune.
“I think he could have had a lot of success here (at Oklahoma State) because he’s a good football player. He’s had a lot of success at Houston. He’ll probably play at the next level because he’s very intelligent,” Gundy continued.
But now the Cowboy defensive staff have the chore of figuring out how to do what few teams have done the past four seasons – stopping Kolb and the Cougar passing game. OSU’s first-team defense has yet to allow a point in three games, but that was against the likes of Missouri State, Arkansas State and Florida Atlantic. The Cougars and Kolb will provide a much stiffer challenge.
“I talked to Ryan McBean and a few other guys this morning and everyone’s excited to get out there and show everybody, and prove to ourselves as well, that we have a good defense this year,” said Cowboy defensive end Nathan Peterson. “This isn’t last year’s defense. Everyone’s a lot more mature and we know what we’re doing now. We’re excited because as d-linemen we’re playing a team that throws the ball this much you get a chance to get some sacks, and that’s what we live for.”
Gundy knows that Kolb will test the Cowboy secondary, which has played well through three games but has not seen anyone the caliber of the Houston quarterback or his receivers.
““That’s one thing we’re unproven in. When we face a team that protects how can we hold up in the secondary?” Gundy asked. “I have confidence in (Jacob) Lacey, and Martel (Van Zant) is a better player. Donovan is not seasoned yet – he doesn’t have a lot of reps back there (at free safety). (Andre) Sexton, obviously, is a freshman. We’re better back there than we were last year, but they haven’t been challenged this year because our defensive line has put so much pressure on the opposing quarterbacks that we really don’t know where we’re at back there. But I hope they’ll be fine. We’ve worked on it a lot and obviously we’ve watched tape and prepare just like they do.”
Gundy envisioned the day he’d look out on the field and see Kolb throwing the ball around – he just planned on it being for the Cowboys and not against them.
“The first time I saw him in spring ball (at Stephenville High School), when I went out there to watch him practice, I knew right then that he was the guy I wanted because of who he is and his savvy, and he likes to play football,” the Cowboy head coach said. “Then we worked hard to get him committed. He drove up here with his family, and we had him committed here for four months. Then when Coach Briles got that job he called me.”
Gundy just hopes to reverse the charges come Saturday.
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