Mac Engel

Bram Kohlhausen’s one career start capped thrilling TCU season

Bram Kohlhausen was joined by his mother, Donna, after being named the offensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl.
Bram Kohlhausen was joined by his mother, Donna, after being named the offensive MVP of the Alamo Bowl. Star-Telegram

This is how bad the state of University of Texas quarterback remains: TCU’s walk-on backups are better than the Longhorns’ scholarship starters.

Add the immortal name “Bram Kohlhausen” to the endless list of Texas-raised quarterbacks Mack Brown and the University of Texas did not want or flat ignored.

In 2011, Kohlhausen was ranked as the sixth-best QB in the state of Texas, according to ESPN, two spots ahead of Johnny Manziel and 14 ahead of Trevone Boykin. Kohlhausen started his college career at Houston, where his offensive coordinator was future TCU co-OC Doug Meacham.

When Kohlhausen realized he was not going to play much at Houston, he transferred to LA Harbor College to play in front of what he estimates was 30 fans a game. He was partially recruited by UT defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, who he met in high school but “he quit returning my calls,” Kohlhausen said in a phone interview on Monday. “I gave him my transcripts and I guarantee you they never made it to anybody.”

Kohlhausen chose to walk on at TCU and created the best one-night, goosebump game/story of this bowl season in the single most entertaining year of TCU football in decades. TCU didn’t finish undefeated, win the Rose Bowl, the Big 12 or make the playoffs, but this season was as fun as any other.

This season will be remembered for Boykin, Doctson, Green, Carraway and Kohlhausen, too.

In just one game Bram Kohlhausen, who was named after the author of the novel Dracula and whose last name means “House of Cabbage” in German, created an identity and a legacy that should resonate for decades.

TCU’s 47-41 win Saturday in the Alamo Bowl was Kohlhausen’s only FBS start in a college career that began in 2011. In Fort Worth and to so many TCU fans, he will always be “You’re the guy who beat Oregon!”

Guys like Kohlhausen are why we are suckers for college sports. He will never play again, but those who watched will never forget this one-hit wonder.

However awful the feelings and bad tastes were created by the arrest and suspension of Boykin, Kohlhausen changed nearly all of that with a performance that should make everyone reconsider, again, the accuracy of scouting services. The kid could play, and he should have been starting somewhere before the final week of his college career.

Kohlhausen created the rare man-cry moment when he embraced his mother, Donna, on the field during the chaotic celebration after TCU’s 3-OT win. Bram’s father and Donna’s husband, Bill, had died a little less than two months before the Alamo Bowl. Bram’s brother, Dash, bought a sideline pass from an Oregon fan and handed it to his mom so she could celebrate and share that moment with her son.

It was a sweet finish to a previously ordinary obscure college career that saw Kohlhausen attend three colleges across three time zones and fall into the starting job because one of his best friends screwed up at the worst moment possible.

Kohlhausen was asleep in his hotel room when he received text messages that said starting quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested Thursday for his involvement in a bar fight.

“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. That’s not him or his personality,” Kohlhausen said.

The suspension of Boykin made Kohlhausen the starter, and it changed the betting line from TCU as a one-point favorite to seven-point underdogs. Kohlhausen had come off the bench previously, and the line looked generous when TCU fell behind 31-0 entering the third quarter.

The injury to Oregon starting quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. in the second quarter changed the game and essentially allowed TCU and Kohlhausen a chance.

In the second half, Kohlhausen became the quarterback who led TCU from a 30-13 deficit in the final nine minutes at Oklahoma. He wasn’t the starter in Norman, but came on in relief and was a failed two-point conversion in the final minute from giving TCU the win.

“I have demons about that one. I felt it was a better play I could have gotten into,” he said. “I second-guessed myself. I felt like if we would have scored there we would have flipped spots with Oklahoma and been in the playoffs.”

TCU missed the BCS Plus 2 and, when Boykin returned from an ankle injury to beat Baylor in a monsoon the day after Thanksgiving, it looked as if Kolhuasen’s career would end on the bench in San Antonio.

Instead, his career ended as the central figure of the most memorable game of the entire bowl season, and one of the most impressive comebacks in the history of college football. He was named one of the game’s MVPs, and shortly thereafter learned that TCU is in the process of putting him on scholarship for his final semester.

He has been in Houston with his family and plans to return to Fort Worth by the end of the week to complete the final 18 hours to finish his degree in criminal justice. He has no idea what he plans to do with the rest of his life.

I asked him if he thought the game would change his life or it was just a nice feather.

“All of this is crazy. It’s so humbling,” he said. “I think it will blow over in week or so.”

He’s right, but no one will ever forget the name Bram Kohlhausen.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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