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Volume 71, Issue 156, Thursday, August 3, 2006

Sports

Koehl feels need for speed

Linebacker turns up heat on the racetrack as well on the gridiron

by MARK SUAREZ
THE DAILY COUGAR

On the road to college football prominence, UH senior Wade Koehl has pretty much seen it all. Known primarily for his blazing speed and ferocious hits, Koehl can usually be found wreaking havoc on opposing offenses at the outside linebacker position for the Cougars. 

For Koehl, excelling on the gridiron has been something he has had little trouble doing from the first day he donned shoulder pads. 

"I grew up in Killeen, Texas, for the most part, and we played a lot of football in the backyard. We did a lot of boxing too," Koehl said. "The first time I played (in) pads was fourth grade. They put me at fullback, and the first game I played in, the opening play we ran a dive and I ran it 60 yards for a touchdown. The next time I got the ball we ran a dive and I ran another 60 yards for a touchdown."


Daily Cougar file photo


Senior linebacker Wade Koehl has set lofty goals for the coming season.
 

From that moment Koehl never missed a beat and pursued football through high school, where he was a standout at Midland High. The former Bulldog proved he was more than just a great athlete as a member of the National Honor Society and by graduating 15th in his class. 

"High school just wasn't about one thing. I don't know if I could say there's one greatest achievement," Koehl said. "I enjoyed playing with all the fellows on the football team the greatest achievement would probably have something to do with Christ. I'm a Christian and that's first and foremost in my life, my purpose in life is to glorify God so I try to do that through everything I do."

Koehl was a member of the Midland squad that reached the Class 5A Division I state championship game in 2002. For Koehl and the rest of his teammates, the experience was bittersweet as they suffered a heartbreaking 33-32 loss to Converse Judson in the closing seconds of regulation. It was a game that showed Koehl just how emotional football could be.

"In that game everything went wrong in the first half," Koehl said. "The only thing that went right was I picked up a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown we were in awe being in (the state championship). 

"After the game some of the guys were sitting there crying. I walked off the field -- I just couldn't handle it. I'm just thankful I got to play again because if that was my last football memory that, I wouldn't enjoy." 

Despite the loss, Koehl persevered and was recruited by UH, where he earned playing time as a true freshman and received Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors at the end of the 2003 season. In 2005, Koehl garnered All-Conference USA Third Team honors as well. 

Having accomplished so much to this point, Koehl will be looking to put up big numbers in the coming season. 

"I've got a lot of goals set out (this season), including 10 sacks, 10-plus tackles (a game), probably 15 to 20 tackles for loss," Koehl said. "I've gotten a touchdown and I've gotten interceptions but I haven't taken an interception for a touchdown, so if I could do that it would be pretty cool. Something I keep dreaming about is catching a (Miami Hurricane) tight end or receiver over the middle and just taking his head off."

These days, if Koehl isn't busy hitting the gym or the books he can probably be found working on fast cars. 

"I built a 1973 Plymouth Duster I got from my grandmother when I turned 15," Koehl said. "It's got a 4-8 cubic inch small box Stroker engine in it, a 727 (transmission), redid the interior paint, all that. It's just something I enjoy doing, its not really in the family, I just like to do it. I love to go fast and just take off fishtailing.

"I'm somewhat of a NASCAR fan but I'm more into the dragster thing and I enjoy doing it more myself. We'd go out to a place called Pinwheel. West Texas Raceway is full of interesting people; it's a blast from the past, really. One time I fishtailed it at 100 mph, that was pretty scary. I burned a set of tires all the way from full tread to no tread that was pretty cool." 

Koehl will graduate in the fall with a degree in finance. His plans include owning real estate, investments and being an entrepreneur in the automotive and fitness industries.

Until then, look for the linebacker making use of one of his many talents -- crushing any opposing offensive players who get in his way.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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