Although the Showboats QB Case Cookus might be a relative unknown in Memphis, USFL fans remember the Championship game against the Birmingham Stallions in 2022 when he took the Philadelphia Stars to the brink of a title. Unfortunately, Cookus suffered a broken leg during the contest, and the Stallions defeated the Stars 33-30.

Collegiate Career

Originally from Thousand Oaks, California, Steven Case Cookus began his football career at Northern Arizona University. In his first year with the NAU Lumberjacks, Cookus passed for 3,111 yards and 37 touchdowns and won the 2015 Jerry Rice Award for Most Outstanding Freshman. Sidelined by a collarbone injury in 2016 after only four games, he returned the next year and finished with 275 completions out of 474 attempts for 3,413 yards, 22 TDs, and 6 interceptions. He had a monster game against Cal Poly, passing for 406 yards (35/46) with four touchdowns. Although Cookus and the Lumberjacks made the 2017 playoffs, they lost early to San Diego.

In 2018, he suffered a collarbone injury running the football against Eastern Washington and once again, his season ended prematurely. Thankfully, this injury wasn’t as severe and he came back from rehab stronger than ever in his senior year. Cookus set a school record for the Lumberjacks with 105 TDs and a career-high of 4,095 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

But perhaps one of the most valuable disciplinary lessons Cookus learned during his collegiate career stemmed from an on-field incident against the University of Montana. After throwing a downfield block, Cookus was ejected from the game for targeting; a penalty that is typically called only against the defense. But Cookus learned from that mistake and in 2018 and 2019, he was named a runner-up for the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding offensive player in FCS football.

Professional Career

Although Cookus was not selected during the 2020 draft, in all likelihood due to his shoulder injuries, he signed as an undrafted free agent that year with the New York Giants. Sadly, the season was cut short due to the pandemic. The following year, Cookus had workouts with the Raiders, Vikings, and Broncos, but when an offer failed to materialize, Cookus shifted his focus to the USFL.

Continuing to Break Records

During his time with the USFL Philadelphia Stars, he developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the league. With Cookus as QB, the Stars boasted a league-high average of more than 26 points per game. On June 5, 2022, during a Stars game against the Michigan Panthers, Cookus recorded the most combined passing and rushing TDs in a single USFL game with five touchdowns.

Known as “the Chef, the 6’4’’ Cookus was first introduced to Memphis fans in April of 2023 while playing for the Stars. During that game, Cookus passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the Stars’ 27-23 victory over the Showboats.

Welcome to Memphis!

In January of 2024, Cookus was acquired in the dispersal draft, bringing to Memphis the superior athleticism, resilience, and leadership qualities that make him a standout player. One of his key strengths is his ability to develop an on-field rapport and chemistry with his receivers. When Cookus is on his game, he carefully controls the time of possession with long sustained drives and his ability to spread the ball to multiple receivers. He has excellent mobility that allows him to make plays running the ball and is currently the leading rusher for the Showboats.

But while his versatility and speed make him a valuable offensive weapon on the ground, it’s also made him vulnerable to the defense and led to the unfortunate distinction of being the most-sacked quarterback in the UFL. Having previously been hit hard enough to cause three season-ending injuries, this continues to be an ongoing issue.

While Coach John DeFilipppo realizes the offensive line needs to do a much better job of protecting their quarterback to prevent sacks and he is taking steps to correct this, Cookus might need to do a better job of protecting himself and developing better field awareness. He has the skill set to lead this team to a Championship along with a talented group of receivers including Daewood Davis, Vinny Papale, and Jonathan Adams who can be counted on to make the big plays. Now all he has to do is stay healthy to make the dream of a Championship a reality.  

author avatar
Sue Levine
Sue Levine spent the past five years creating and producing a successful weekly health and wellness podcast starring a wonderful iconic woman as the program host. As part of Sue's responsibilities, she scripted every episode and discovered a genuine love of writing. When the podcast ended late last year, she shifted the focus of her writing to covering pro sports. A passionate fan of NFL and UFL football as well as fantasy, she is delighted to be able to share her articles with other football fans.

1 Comment

  • Posted April 19, 2024 2:19 pm 0Likes
    by Ken Granito

    Truly love this article, Sue. I have followed Case since Bryan Scott got hurt and you are so right on. Hoping the team comes together, allowing the current fans to enjoy what Cookus brings to the table, plus build upon that while hopefully bringing more fans in the building. I hope you find a lot of good, reportable moments this Spring.

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