Before quarterbacking Headquarters and Service Battalion Henderson Hall, Commander Marine Col. Keith Couch did some signal calling of his own. Individuals who watched football closely noticed the colonel’s last name is identical to a renowned collegiate quarterback.
For the record, Henderson Hall’s Couch and former professional quarterback Tim Couch are second cousins. They both were raised in Hyden, Kentucky, and attended Leslie County High School.
“(Tim’s) dad and I are first cousins,” the colonel said. “(Tim and I) grew up together. We were more like brothers than cousins just because of the football connection.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Couch name was synonymous for quarterbacking at eastern Kentucky’s Leslie County. For 12 seasons, a Couch was under center leading the offense. But there were more than Keith and Tim in the Leslie County quarterback mix. Tim’s brother, Greg, also did an exceptional job at heaving the pigskin.
“For a span of 12 years, there was a Couch quarterback,” Couch, who is seven years older than Tim, said. “I was the first one to go through, I graduated, and Greg took over. Greg graduated, and Tim took over. It was pretty neat to have that legacy. Before I was active duty Marine Corps in 1993, I went back and was a football coach and coached Tim’s team. I was one of the assistants. I was the receiver/defensive back coach. Tim was a sophomore at the time.”
All the Couch boys were four-year quarterback starters at Leslie County. While Tim grabbed the biggest spotlight, Greg also had an all-state career at the high school.
“Not many people know that his brother Greg played professional football in the World Football League,” Keith said. “Everybody thinks of Tim as the pro and the No. 1 draft pick, but Greg, if he did not have issues with his shoulder, he could have played.
“Tim was better than both of us. As a freshman, he was real outstanding. He was gifted. After his freshman year, he was really good. The talk and the buzz were there.”
The talk and the buzz throughout the high school football world centered around Tim’s career numbers. In high school, Tim threw for 12,104 yards, 133 career touchdown passes and 872 completions, which were all national records in 1995. The year Keith was a coach on the staff, Tim threw for more than 3,000 yards his sophomore year.
As Tim gained a national following at the University of Kentucky, Keith was stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and California and was always staying informed on Tim’s domination.
“During that time, the buzz was about a Heisman Trophy and where he was going to go in the draft,” Keith said. “I remember specifically when he was up for the NFL draft, I was in training at Twenty-Nine Palms, California. We were out there as a detachment training to go on a deployment. I kept in touch with Greg, his older brother, and we got the word he was going to go No. 1.”
Keith also had the opportunity to take leave to see Tim play throughout Southeastern Conference territory and after he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
These days, the colonel said he is “closer than ever” with the former No. 1 draft pick and sees Tim during holiday trips to Kentucky.
Pentagram Staff Writer Jim Dresbach can be reached at email@example.com.