He transferred, twice, trying to find the right university. He didn’t give up when the Frogs were down 31-0 in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon. And now, he’s looking into continuing his football career after graduation.
Kohlhausen, who led TCU to one of the greatest comebacks in Bowl history, said he hopes to play overseas after he graduates in May. While he said playing in Europe is a possibility, general managers in Japan have also made him offers to play.
“I’m kind of like a yes man,” Kohlhausen said. “So, if someone tells me I can go play in Europe for a year, I don’t see why not.”
The unlikely story
Until the Alamo Bowl, Kohlhausen didn’t have much playing time at TCU, or any place else. His collegiate career started at the University of Houston, where he was redshirted. In 2013, he transferred to Los Angeles Harbor College and saw action in four games.
At TCU, he had to wait his turn… again.
“I wasn’t the starter, I was a fourth-string guy,” Kohlhausen said.
He didn’t get discouraged.
He stayed positive and just kept looking forward to the next practice. The next drill. The next play.
That mindset was on display when he made his first and only start for the Frogs: in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Before the Bowl game, Kohlhausen had played in seven TCU games.
He stepped up after starting quarterback Trevone Boykin went down with an ankle injury this season. He saw major playing time against Kansas and Oklahoma.
In the Nov. 21 game against the Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma, Kohlhausen entered with the Frogs down 17 points. He nearly led the Frogs all the way back, but the comeback stalled with a failed 2-point conversion.
The miraculous comeback
Throughout the season, football wasn’t first in Kohlhausen’s mind.
His father, Bill, was being treated for melanoma, but still managed to attend TCU football games.
Bill Kohlhausen saw his son play Oct. 3 against the University of Texas at Austin. That would be the last time. He died in November.
Two days before the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2, head coach Gary Patterson suspended Boykin after he was arrested for getting into a bar fight and striking a police officer.
Kohlhausen had to step up.
Waking up, finding out you’re starting, only having one practice left, facing the No. 15 team in the nation… “it’s overwhelming,” Kohlhausen said.
Many TCU fans wrote off the game before kick-off.
After the first half, TCU was down 31-0 and had only mustered 133 yards of offense. Many thought Patterson would make the switch to redshirt freshman quarterback Foster Sawyer after halftime.
But Kohlhausen came back.
He converted on a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Jaelan Austin to give the Frogs’ their first touchdown of the game. From then on out, it was a whirlwind of momentum: a fumble recovery off of Oregon’s kickoff return; a run into the end zone by Kohlhausen after he dove for the score on the previous play right; a field goal by Jaden Oberkrom; and another scoring drive on a 2-yard run by Aaron Green.
The Frogs scored 31 unanswered points to send the game into overtime. They won 47-41 after three overtimes.
Kohlhausen said he has watched the second half multiple times. He still doesn’t know how they did it.
“Pieced together,” Kohlhausen said. “It was a perfect story.”
And he’s right. His MVP performance in the Alamo Bowl was such a “perfect story,” that Disney reached out to TCU about putting the story on the big screen.
But the movie proposal won’t be decided upon until Kohlhausen graduates in May. Even then, they will revisit the idea, said Mark Cohen, director of athletics media relations.
“Nothing is set in stone by any means,” Cohen said. “It’s just a preliminary inquiry.”
Never giving up
Playing football overseas isn’t all that glamorous, but Kohlhausen said he isn’t worried about that.
“[European football] small league that doesn’t pay very much, but it pays for your housing, transportation [and] food,” he said.
Even if football or a movie isn’t in the future, Kohlhausen said one thing he will take away from his career at TCU is the family aspect of football and the friends he made along the way.
It wasn’t just the banter in and out of the locker-room — it was the confidence his teammates and coaches instilled in one another, he said.
One of the most important things Kohlhausen said they taught him: “never give up.”
“I don’t think you can ever give up in life,” he said.
Kohlhausen takes the advice and teaches it to the children he mentors through his internship with the Fort Worth Youth Advocate program.
He said the kids in the program face difficult or nonexistent family lives, such as parents who don’t speak English or struggle with drug addiction. To them, it might be the worst thing in the world to get an “F” in seventh-grade math, but Kohlhausen said he reassures them that everything will be okay.
“I just have to be there and mentor them,” Kohlhausen said.
Along with being a mentor, Kohlhausen said he finally has enough time to enjoy being a regular student. It also helps that, following the Alamo Bowl, TCU gave Kohlhausen a full scholarship for the spring semester.
With no more football practices, he is finally able to take afternoon classes. It’s also nice to be able to sleep in, he joked.
As his time at TCU comes to an end, Kohlhausen said he continues to look forward. He also makes sure to never look back.
“I knew there was always something else out there for me,” he said. “I found it here at TCU.”