Who is T.J. Yates?

In an NFL year rife with injuries to star quarterbacks, the Houston Texans are no strangers to the woes of losing your starting gunslinger for the season. Matt Schaub went out during the Texans pounding of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a Lisfranc fracture as fans cringed at the thought of backup Matt Leinart running the show. While Texans’ fans were concerned about relying on Leinart at the helm, things got worse when he also went down with a broken collarbone the following week. The Texans brought in several quarterbacks to work out, aged veterans, such as Jeff Garcia, Jake Delhomme, but Sunday will be leaning on rookie T.J. Yates.

So just who is this 24-year old kid the Texans are pinning their playoff hopes on this weekend? Yates was drafted in the fifth round by the Texans from the University of North Carolina.  Yates finished his college career with 9,377 yards and 58 touchdowns, setting more than 40 school records, including every mark for single-season and career pass completions and yards. Despite his college success, playing in the NFL, much less starting, seemed something of a long shot for Yates. He is the first quarterback from the school to start an NFL game.

Will Yates be good enough to carry the Texans to the playoffs? The team has the benefit of being in a weak division overall, with the winless Indianapolis Colts and the 3-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are currently leading the AFC South, but have Tennessee nipping at their heels for the division leader spot.