He became the greatest quarterback in University of Houston history. Good enough to be the first draft pick taken by the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. But it’s Stephenville, with its grass roots lifestyle and rural town upbringing that local legend Kevin Kolb loves most.
The Eagles were idle in NFL play this week, allowing Kolb a chance to visit his hometown - just in time for the annual homecoming festivities.
Kolb signed autographs for over 1,000 fans at Bruner Motors Friday. He put his signature on everything from the new exclusive Bruner Motors Kevin Kolb rookie card, to the cover of the edition of Texas Football Magazine that included Kolb on its cover. Bruners teamed up with First Financial Bank and Barefoot Athletics to provide children’s T-shirts that were also signed.
“I’m very biased to this place, obviously,” Kolb said. “The people here are very genuine, and Stephenville will always be special to me. The reason I like to come back here is because it recharges my batteries. Football is so important here - to everyone from myself to the fan base here, to my dad who coached here.”
Kolb says the evolution of his game from high school through college and into the NFL has been a gradual one.
“My dad was a coach so I was in the game the word go,” Kolb said. “Coach Briles has made a big impact on me, and Coach Copeland obviously. Getting to follow Coach Briles and that whole crew of coaches who went to Houston was something special.”
Kolb was the starter the day he set foot on the U of H campus, and the best quarterback ever to wear Cougar red the day he left. Along the way, Kolb re-wrote the school’s record book. He passed for 106 touchdowns while completing 964 of 1,565 attempts. He was responsible for 12,964 yards of total offense. There are two accomplishments that stand out above the rest for the Stephenville graduate.
“What’s most important to me is having started 50-plus games and the (Conference USA) championship we won my senior year,” Kolb said. “Winning a championship is always special, no matter what level you’re on.”
Kolb’s success carried over to the 2007 NFL preseason. He took more preseason snaps than any other quarterback in the league, and the stats show that he made the most of his extended action. He was especially impressive in the Eagles’ bout with Pittsburg, completing 26 of 37 passes for 242 yards.
Now in the regular season, Kolb serves as a back-up quarterback for the Eagles behind Donovan McNabb and AJ Feeley. Kolb says McNabb has been great to work with and has taught him much about the pro game.
“He’s great,” Kolb said of McNabb. “He’s under a lot of controversy at times, but people don’t know the man and how great he is. He helps me out whenever he can.”
Kolb understands that in the NFL he has to be prepared to step into a game situation at any time.
“You never know when that situation is going to come,” he said. “When it does you have to get the job done, or they’re going to bring in someone who will.”
The biggest obstacle for Kolb has been adjusting to the lifestyle in the northeast.
“The people are different and it’s so fast-paced. Sometimes you have to slow down and put priorities in their right place.”
When life does get hectic, he turns to his wife for support. Kolb is married to Stephenville native Whitney Huddleston Kolb.
“You know the saying that behind every great ball player or coach there is a great wife - that’s Whitney. She’s always there for me. We both started here together, and she’s always somebody I can fall back on.”
Kolb visited with Stephenville Head Coach Chad Morris and the 2007 Yellow Jackets Friday, and was in attendance at the homecoming pep rally.
He and Whitney return to their home in New Jersey today, their batteries freshly charged from a true Stephenville homecoming.