Nobody at UC will ever question the toughness of
quarterback Brendon Kay.
As a true freshman in 2008, Kay suffered a devastating knee injury...and kept playing.
"It was a bye week during the Orange Bowl year," said Kay. "As the scout team quarterback, I got hit by Ricardo Mathews and I hyperextended it. It was a grade two and they put me in a brace for a couple of weeks. I came out of the brace and scrimmaged a few days later and just planted on it and blew everything out...ACL, MCL, both meniscus. I actually played the next play and probably hurt it worse. It was an outside zone running play so I had to move. After that, it was bad."
Kay has been battling back from that injury for the last 3-and-a-half years and now as he prepares for his final season as a Bearcat, the 5th-year senior is not even wearing a knee brace.
"If I'm going to go out there, I want to feel normal and I don't want to be thinking about my knee," Brendon told me. "I just want to go out there and play. My knee feels great and I'm 100 percent."
"It's come a long way - you don't see a limp or any effects of the knee injury," said head coach Butch Jones. "His knee is actually stronger than it has ever been which a tribute to his work ethic."
"He's moving very well, and everything that we ask the quarterback to do, I feel confident that he can execute it," said quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian. "He's a tough son-of-a-gun. He's taken some licks out here on the practice field that he pops up from and you're like, 'Wow.' There's nobody that questions his toughness."
Heading into Saturday's Bearcat Bowl VI, Kay is battling junior Munchie Legaux to be Cincinnati's starting quarterback next season. A few weeks ago, Coach Jones told me that Legaux was number one and Kay was 1-A, but following the team's final practice before the spring game, Jones said the two QBs are running even.
"I would say now that they are 1 and 1," said Jones. "Brendon Kay has done a great job of getting himself back into playing shape; he's a great student of the game, and a great competitor. They will continue to compete and I think that competition is extremely healthy."
"The competition will continue to exist into the summer and into training camp," said Bajakian.
"That has pushed me every day to keep working," said Kay. "I think spring ball has gone great and we'll see what happens. I'm just going to keep playing ball and keep working every day."
Kay is 6'4", 237 pounds and has a powerful arm. In the practices that I've attended this spring, he's completed more deep throws than Legaux, but isn't as big a threat in the running game.
"He has had a good spring and has stepped up his game in a lot of ways," said Bajakian. "He has mentally mastered the offense. There is not a question that I am able to ask in the meeting room that stumps him - and I mean that. He is really sharp mentally, he has worked his butt off, he has earned the respect of his teammates, and he is battling."
"I'm very comfortable and I know the offense inside-and-out," said Kay. "I just stick to the progressions and do what the coaches are saying. Whenever my number is called, I'll be ready to go - it's that simple."
Even if Kay is not Cincinnati's opening night starter in September, the odds are that he will get meaningful playing time in 2012. UC's starting quarterback has missed at least one start due to injury in each of the last six years and Brendon is eager to prove himself.
"I want to play - I want to show everyone what I can do," Kay told me.
"He has worked extremely hard to put himself into a position to go into training camp competing for the job," said Coach Jones. "As we all know, you can never have just one quarterback."
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Speaking of young Sam, here he is proudly wearing his first baseball uniform.