Before Saturday’s 34-10 win at Temple, the last time that quarterback Brendon Kay started a game was November 24, 2007 when he led Marine City (MI) High School to a state title at Ford Field in Detroit.
That’s a Rip Van Winkle-like 1,813 days between starts.
So was the fifth-year senior able to sleep the night before his first start as a Bearcat?
“Not really,” Brendon told me with a laugh. “I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t.”
Imagine what he’ll do with a good night’s rest.
After coming off the bench last week to help rally the Bearcats to a win over Syracuse, Kay left no doubt who the starting quarterback will be next week against Rutgers, completing 13-of-21 passes for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns, while running for an additional 71 yards on 7 carries. He even caught one of his own passes for a five yard gain when it ricocheted off of a Temple defender.
“It was awesome to be out there,” said Kay. “You prepare all week like you’re the starter, but when you hear that you are, your mentality changes a little bit. When you get the opportunity you have to take advantage of it.”
“I’m proud of him,” said wide receiver Anthony McClung. “This is what everybody dreams of. He’s been the backup all season and now that he got his opportunity, he came through for us. I told him, ‘It’s not like you’ve never done this before.'”
Kay was especially impressive throwing the deep ball as he tossed a 75-yard TD pass to Kenbrell Thompkins and a 65-yard TD to Chris Moore.
“That pass to me was right on the money,” said Moore. “All I had to was put my hands out and it was right there.”
Kay’s college career has been slowed by a series of knee injuries that have required him to undergo three surgeries. That were times where it appeared that his Bearcat career was over.
“That’s what makes this even better,” Brendon told me. “All of the people who say ‘You can’t do it.’ All of the doctors who say, ‘I don’t think you can come back from this’ When you come out and do it, it’s that much more rewarding.
“I’m alright now. I’ve put in the time and I feel good.”
Due to his multiple knee injuries, Kay hopes to be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
“Right now, all indications are that it’s very favorable,” said head coach Butch Jones. “That’s something that we’ll work on once the season is concluded.”
“It’s not in my hands so I can’t really worry about it,” said Kay. “I’m going to approach these last few games like they’re my last.”
While there wasn’t much of a crowd at Lincoln Financial Field, the spectators did include several members of Kay’s family.
“My mom, my grandma, my girlfriend, my dad, and my stepmom were all here,” Brendon told me. “It was awesome to see them out there. It was pretty emotional. I saw my dad after the game and he came down and gave me a hug.”
After going nearly five years between starts, was it worth the wait?
“Honestly, looking back on it, it goes by quickly,” said Kay/ “But it was a long process, so it was definitely rewarding. I’m going to celebrate for the rest of the day. Tomorrow I’m going to get to work and start watching film.”
After all, he only has seven days to get ready for start number two.
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