Clayton Tune was suddenly thrust into a starting quarterback role in 2019 when Houston star quarterback D’Eriq King was shut down for the season. Three years later, he left as one of the most accomplished and decorated quarterbacks in Cougar history.
The four-year starter was selected as the 139th overall pick of the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He was the second Cougar selected, two rounds following his go-to wide receiver Tank Dell, who landed in the third round to the Houston Texans. Tune was the ninth quarterback selected and the first Cougar gunslinger drafted since Kevin Kolb in 2007.
Tune exited his college career as the third-leading passer among active quarterbacks with 11,994 yards. He is tied for 42nd all-time in the category and is one of three Houston quarterbacks to exceed 10,000 yards, alongside Case Keenum and Kevin Kolb.
The former Cougar finished third in passing touchdowns last season with 40, only trailing Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and second overall pick C.J. Stroud. He was one of eight FBS quarterbacks to post 4,000 passing yards and he completed his attempts at a respectable 67.3 percent clip. Tune concluded his storied college career with an MVP performance in the Independence Bowl, where he delivered a game-winning touchdown pass to Tank Dell in the waning seconds of the contest.
Tune exceeded 360 passing yards five times in his senior campaign, including firing for a career-high 527 yards and seven touchdowns in a 77-63 barnburner at SMU in November — the highest-scoring game in FBS history that did not feature an overtime period. While he often diced up opponents with his arm, his scrambling ability was more than respectable. Tune reached the century mark as a rusher on three occasions, including a 111-yard performance in that aforementioned SMU contest.
He was a First Team All-AAC selection in 2022 and a Second Team All-AAC selection in 2021. In 2021, Tune guided the Cougars to the AAC Championship Game and a 12-2 season, capped off with an MVP performance in a Birmingham Bowl victory over Auburn.
From 2019 to 2022, Tune saw improvements in nearly every statistic with the progression of each season. He maxed out with 4,074 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 40-to-10 as a senior with the highest passer rating of his college career.
The longtime Cougar quarterback was invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where measured in at 6’2” and 220 pounds. Tune clocked in at 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash and posted top three quarterback scores in both the vertical jump and broad jump.
Tune joins an Arizona Cardinals quarterback room which features franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, who tore his ACL last December in a Monday Night Football matchup against the New England Patriots. With Murray’s timetable for return uncertain, Tune will compete alongside veteran Colt McCoy and recent free agent acquisition Jeff Driskel in the preseason.