When he was a freshman and Kansas played Missouri, Kelly Donohoe was pumped so high he was a threat to the ozone layer. But Mizzou punched a hole in plans.
When he was a sophomore and Kansas played Missouri, Donohoe was generating enough adrenalin to fill Clinton Lake. But Mizzou punched a hole in his boat.
When he was a junior and Kansas played Missouri, Donohoe was so inspired he felt like he was Rocky. But Mizzou punched him out.
"I've probably played my three worst games against Missouri," Donohoe admitted the other day.
He's probably right. In three previous appearances against the Tigers all Missouri wins Donohoe completed just 20 of 48 passes (41.6 percent) for 297 yards and was intercepted four times.
"Maybe I put too much pressure on myself when we play them," Donohoe reflected. "I've just gotta relax and go out and have fun."
PRESSURE HAS followed Donohoe into games against Missouri because 1) he's from Harrisonville, Mo., and 2) he chose KU over MU in the recruiting process.
Potentially, Donohoe could be a nervous wreck on Saturday afternoon in Columbia. In addition to playing Missouri again, it'll be Donohoe's final collegiate game. Let's face it, he'd have to have the nerve quotient of a slab of tofu in order to keep his emotions in check.
"It's kind of depressing in a way," he says in anticipation of his late college outing. "But it's the biggest game I've ever been involved in. . .in the sense it's the last one. I want to go out on a good note."
If anyone ever deserved to bow out on a good note, it's Donohoe. Here's a young man who has presided over one of the lowest ebbs in Kansas football history with a perpetual smile and an optimism that makes Pollyanna look like Torquemada.
Furthermore, he's been a media delight ever accessible even after the bitterest defeat as well as uncommonly quotable whatever the occasion.
For instance, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Donohoe's career has been his durability. Although relatively small at 6-0 or so he says and 180 pounds, he has never missed a game because of an injury.
WHAT, HE was asked, has been the secret of his health maintenance over the years?
"Man, I've been lucky. I don't know how I haven't had a serious injury," he said. "I think it all goes back to working out and staying in shape. . .That," he added, chuckling, "and staying low."
What's ahead for Kelly Donohoe? Well, he'll earn a degree in communications next spring. In the meantime, he plans to take an in-depth look at his future.
He'll probably be back on Mount Oread next year to work on a masters degree, perhaps while serving as a graduate assistant coach, although he realizes that being ". . .a GA is a pain in the butt, but that's part of the sacrifice you have to make."
It's not that he wants so much to be a coach. Preferably, he'd be ". . .a recruiting co-ordinator, or something along those lines."
Too, he might try Canadian football, saying, "I want to give something a shot because I don't want to be done when the season is over."
Whatever, he has no complaints about being lifted off the red-shirt list nine games into his freshman year and, in a sense, wasting most of his first season.
"I'VE THOUGHT about that a lot," he concedes. "I wish I could have one more year left, but you have to look ahead. I don't have any regrets. The worst thing I could do is look back."
So Donohoe looks ahead, hoping the first chapter of his retrospective contains the last chapter of his college football career.
"If we win this one," he said, "I can look back and be happy. That'd make it all worthwhile."