Semester Rewind: UH greats show up at Hall of Honor event

Former record-setting UH quarterback and current Texans backup Case Keenum (right) headlined a class of several big-time UH athletes honored. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

The University of Houston has a rich athletic history, with names across sports that resonate, such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Carl Lewis, Clyde Drexler, Andre Ware, Fred Couples and more. 

The Athletics program inducts these special athletes into the Hall of Honor, a tradition that started in 1971 and reintroduced in 1998.

In September, the University of Houston Athletics inducted its 23rd Hall of Honor class and 12th since the 1998 reintroduction.

Jim Nantz, the legendary sports broadcaster and well-known alumnus of the university, was the MC at the event in the Post Oak Hotel.

“I was first contacted by Katina Jackson who is such a gift to the University of Houston. She started this 15-20 years ago and wanted to show everyone in the state of Texas about the class the University of Houston has,” Nantz said. “To put on an event like this of this stature, it really resonates.”

The 2023 inductee class had some big-name athletes with large legacies, with it being the first year in the Big 12 conference.

“For a lot of schools, if this was their charter class going into the Hall of Honor, they would say ‘Wow, now that school is power packed’,” Nantz said. “There’s just been so many meritorious honorees & achievers through the years. It’s a great testament to the power of this university.”

This sentiment was highlighted by Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum. 

“It’s a really special deal. Very, very honored and the class that we’re in is really cool,” Keenum said of where he ranks this moment. “It’s up there at the top.”

The legendary former Cougars quarterback played five record-setting seasons from 2007 to 2011. His 19,217 career passing yards and 155 passing touchdowns are NCAA records.

Keenum led Houston to a 41-16 record and is the only player in Division I history to throw for 5,000 yards in three different seasons. 

The two-time Sammy Baugh Trophy winner spoke about sharing his special moment. 

“It means everything to have my family here, my family on the field here,” Keenum said. “I’ve had so many special memories with those guys, and I’ll probably be surprised at some of the guys who actually are here, so I’m looking forward to hugging some necks.”

Former UH football head coach Dana Holgorsen was close with Keenum when he was the quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator for the Cougars in 2008-09. 

“A special young man, special family. He’s a competitive coach’s kid,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve always called him Coach Keenum for a long time… the legacy he has here is remarkable.”

Rick Brewer was one of the greatest pitchers to play at the University of Houston. Brewer had a huge role for the Cougars to reach the 1967 College World Series.

“This is incredible. I am so proud to be put in this program today,” Brewer said. “I had some great teammates who I couldn’t be here today without, and some of them have already left but it’s a great place to be.”

Michael Bourn was an all-time great outfielder for the Houston Cougars from 2001-2003. Bourn made his impact right away, earning All-Conference honors while setting program freshman records. 

The Cougars standout is a two-time All-Star, including 2010 with the Houston Astros. Throughout his 11-year MLB career, Bourn played for six teams, led the national league in stolen bases three times, and was a two-time Gold Glove winner. Bourn is currently a TV analyst on Space City Home Network covering the Astros. 

“I was ecstatic,“ Bourn said. “It’s just amazing when you come from where you come from and you have to work your way up to this point and you get that call and have all that hard work, it’s really worth it.”

Sonya Watkins Ellis was a three-time team MVP forward for the Cougars women’s basketball team from 1982-1986. Ellis was the first and only Cougar to receive the Southwest Conference Player of the Year award in 1985-86.

As a member of the league’s all-decade team, she ranks second all-time in points for the Cougars with 1752. 

“I was just so shocked and amazed,” Ellis said. “I just felt wonderful, it’s a wonderful honor to be honored for the Hall of Honor at the University of Houston.”

Sandra Cummings Glover was a dominant track athlete during her time with the Cougars. In 1991, she was an All-American. Eventually, Glover had success on the national landscape, medaling twice at the World Championships and competing in the 2000 Summer Olympics. 

Simon Fletcher was one of the greatest Houston Cougars football alumni. Fletcher was a second-round pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Fletcher played 172 consecutive games for the Broncos and is currently second all-time in sacks in Denver with 97.5.

As one of the top edge rushers in NFL history, Fletcher ranks 13th on the all-time sacks list and was inducted into the Broncos Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Mike Booker was an All-American golfer and helped Houston win an NCAA national championship in 1977 as well as reach two Southwest Conference Championships in his two years, starting in 1967. Booker was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame in 2019. 

“I am still stunned as I was back then when I first found out,” Booker said. “I just about fell out of my chair. Really being a part of the U of H family was enough for me and so this just blows me away. I’m part of a very select group now.”

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