Cornerback takes long Routt back to Houston
Former UH cornerback Stanford Routt was excited when he found out he was returning to the city where he accomplished a lot as a college athlete.
Routt was signed by the Houston Texans after the Kansas City Chiefs cut him eight weeks into the NFL season and nine months after the Oakland Raiders cut him one year into a three-year, $31.5 million contract.
Such is life in the NFL because contracts are not guaranteed. Players are transient: They move from city to city to find work.
Houston provides a sense of normalcy for a player who has been cut twice in less than a year.
“At first I was first worried about finding a place to stay and knowing how to get around in a new city, but (in Houston) none of that was needed,” Routt said.
Routt returned to the city where he competed at UH from 2001 to 2003. Routt, an Austin native, said he has had several ticket requests from friends and family since joining the Texans.
Proximity aside, the Texans are also a good fit because the scheme directed by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is similar to the one he played in as a member of the Raiders, Routt said.
Phillips oversees an attacking defense that uses man-to-man principles in the secondary most of the time, which is the same type of scheme defensive coordinator Rob Ryan employed during his tenure with the Raiders. Ryan now holds the same position with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I can play in any scheme needed, but it definitely helps to play man-to-man the scheme I played early in my career,” Routt said.
Since joining the Texans, Routt has played mainly on special teams, where he can use his speed to make plays.
Routt has always been fast. While at the NFL combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds — the second fastest time in the combine’s history. At UH, he ran track and earned All-America honors in the 200 meters and was a semifinalist in the 200-meters at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
He chose to attend UH because he wanted to play in a big city — not because of the University’s winning pedigree, since the expectations surrounding the football program then were not the same as they are today.
Rout said his most memorable moment came against Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl during his last season when UH reached the post season for the first time since the 1996 Liberty Bowl. Before that, the Cougars hadn’t reached the post-season since the 1988 Aloha Bowl.
“Back when I went to UH, we didn’t always go to a bowl,” Routt said. “We didn’t have Case Keenum or Kevin Kolb until my final season.”
In 2003, Art Briles and Kevin Kolb debuted as coach and quarterback, respectively. Briles’ coaching staff, namely former UH special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey pushed him to get better and challenged him to be better prepared mentally, Routt said. McGaughey had credibility because he had worked for the Chiefs and Texans.
Also important to Routt is giving back, both to the community he was a part of and the university he played at.
Before this season, Routt made a donation to the UH Athletics Sports Medicine Department. He has also created the Routt 2 Success Foundation to help direct kids toward a positive life with the help of sports.
“I know growing up I had a lot of people just as good or better, but the one thing that gets us derailed is free time. The hours of 3 to 6 p.m. are critical when parents are still at work … You can get into things like drugs, gangs and teenage pregnancies,” Routt said. “We’re all blessed and have to give back. I like to give kids knowledge … Getting into trouble takes a split second, and having your life taken away from you for a split-second decision when you’re 16 or 17 is difficult.”