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Hawaii still owes Brennan for taking 1 for the team


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POSTED: Monday, September 28, 2009

That 2007 NFL Draft ... a great one for quarterbacks, eh?

The luminaries include JaMarcus Russell (first overall selection), Brady Quinn (22nd) and Drew Stanton (43rd).

These picks are known for their picks ... and their incompletions, sacks, and in many cases, their DNPs. Yesterday Russell floundered in another Raiders loss, and Quinn was benched in another Browns loss. Stanton's on the Lions, who finally won—with him mending an injury.

Kevin Kolb was OK, winning for the Eagles in place of Donovan McNabb. But he's more than offset by a hapless handful of losers, backups and where-are-they-nows including Trent Edwards, Troy Smith, Tyler Thigpen, John Beck and Jeff Rowe.

It's been two years, so that draft is in the rearview mirror—and thankfully getting farther and farther away, smaller and smaller. But the mediocrity of the QB Class of '07 and some other factors make me think about the most popular decision in Hawaii sports history.

JAN. 17 should be Colt Brennan Day in Hawaii. Kids should be let out of school—even if it's not a Friday. Anyone with dreadlocks who can ask for it in Samoan should get a free beer. (Oh, and I know I've mentioned this before, but No. 15 should be retired ... from EVERY sports team at UH.)

That was the day, in 2007, when Brennan told us he would return for his senior season. He became a state hero for life, and rightfully so.

There are folks out there who don't believe Brennan gave up big money to come back, that he wouldn't have been picked high in the draft. I am of a very strong opinion Brennan did give up millions; at the time, I had long conversations with several NFL people who told me Brennan would be among the top two to four QBs selected. Go back over those names at the beginning of this column. Surely, you must agree he would've (or should've) been chosen ahead of them.

SOME—INCLUDING Brennan—said he still had more to learn, and that he needed to develop “;body armor”; (his words) in the weight room. As it turns out, his stock would never be higher than after that junior year, with the 58 touchdown passes, with the trouncing of Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl. Many of us agree the 2006 team was the best UH squad ever.

There can't be too much regret, because Brennan and his 2007 teammates accomplished most of what they set out to do. They went undefeated during the regular season and brought home BCS bowl game bounty.

But, professionally, that senior season did not help Brennan. The injuries, the way it ended at the Sugar Bowl—it made the NFL focus on the questions and the negatives more than the affirmative answers and the positives, resulting in a sixth-round draft choice. Third in the Heisman Trophy voting? That's nice, but it doesn't matter to the pros. Successfully navigating (sometimes, barely) the WAC, a weak Washington team and a couple of I-AAs? Pass the soft butter please, I've got a hot knife.

The Tim Tebow injury Saturday and the one to Sam Bradford earlier reminded me of the concussion Colt suffered against Fresno State as a senior. But the risk of injury was just one of many reasons to dig out after his junior year.

It's easy to imagine Colt Brennan performing as well or better than any of the quarterbacks who entered the NFL in 2007.