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Throwback Thursday: Jon Gruden Saw 'Big Time' Potential in Keenum Before NFL

Long before Case Keenum came on the scene in Minnesota and helped lead the Vikings to the chance at an NFC title, Jon Gruden saw "big-time" potential in the quarterback.

Keenum, who excelled at the University of Houston and set NCAA record in passing yards and touchdowns, sat down with Gruden for a segment of ESPN's Jon Gruden's QB Camp prior to the 2012 NFL Draft. released an extended version of the brief clip that's resurfaced in the wake of Keenum's success in Purple.

In the video, Gruden – recently hired by the Raiders for his second tenure as their head coach – compliments the young signal caller's style of play while breaking down clips from Keenum's various games with the Cougars.

"You know what I love about you, Keenum? You've got some serious guts, man. Some of these throws you've made, from awkward body positions, guys beating right down on you," Gruden says while watching tape from a Houston-Mississippi State matchup. "These are some of my favorite plays that make me say there is no doubt you're going to be just fine. Not many guys can stare down a gun barrel like this, man, and throw a strike.

"This is big-time stuff," Gruden later adds. "I love this Keenum."

Keenum gave the same smile then, when watching tape with Gruden, that he does when he takes the field now.

At one point, Gruden rewinds and replays a high-knees celebration run by Keenum after throwing a touchdown pass.

"What is that you're doing? Like a Yosemite Sam thing or something?" Gruden asks, laughing.

Keenum chuckles himself and shakes his head before responding, "That's running out of ideas and just having too much fun."

After going through a number of plays with Keenum, Gruden gets a little more serious with the young signal caller and expresses confidence in his future in the game of football.

Gruden encourages Keenum that even if he isn't drafted, he will have the opportunity to demonstrate his talent at the NFL level.

"At the end of the day, at the end of your career, at the end of time, does [the draft] really matter? No. All it takes is one coach that believes in you," Gruden says. "Just be ready. Because you will get your chance.

"You're going to be all right," Gruden adds. "You just keep competing. You just keep working. Somebody's going to take you. Somebody's not, and somebody's going to be sorry. I've got a feeling on that."

Now nearly six years later, Keenum's NFL journey has been one of ups and downs after first signing with the Texas as an undrafted free agent. But he's maintained a high confidence level, and he has certainly impressed during his first season with the Vikings.

In a session with media members Thursday, leading up to the NFC Championship game, Keenum said he was aware of the video making its rounds and said it was fun to remember the experience with Gruden.

"It's pretty cool. [He's a] great dude," Keenum said. "I had a lot of fun with him that weekend, getting to do that quarterback camp that he did for the draft. But yeah, it's cool to have a guy like that, who has the experience that he has, be able to say those things. It was definitely good to hear at the time."

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