When I was presented the opportunity to interview Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, I jumped at the chance. He's been one of the 2011 NFL Draft's major movers since the end of the regular season.
He's gone from fourth to fifth round pick, to now getting mentions from teams that he could even go in the first round.
To say that it's been an unordinary journey for Kaepernick to getting to this point is an understatement. The former Nevada QB started off his career in high school as a dual prospect in both football and baseball. He played the glamour position in both sports. Obviously heading up the huddle on Friday nights, and he was also a starting pitcher at his California high school.
It wasn't the fact that he excelled at both sports, it's about the type of offense his high school team played. At Pitman High School, they ran the Wing-T offense exclusively. For those that don't know, the Wing-T is a run-first and almost always attack that doesn't put a lot of stress on the quarterback.
But Kaepernick's abilities allowed Pitman to feature the quarterback just a little bit.
"We probably threw the ball about 13 times a game," the quarterback said. Thirteen throws a game somehow equated to 2,400 passing yards from what Kaepernick told me. Not too shabby. Nevada saw something in the quarterback as a football player, despite a heap of interest in his baseball abilities.
Kaepernick said he hasn't picked up a baseball in five years, but back in the old days he topped out at 94 miles per hour, as an 18-year old. Even after choosing football for a few years, a Major League Baseball team even took a flier on him in the summer of his junior season. The Chicago Cubs hoped that they could sneak Kaepernick in to spring training by taking him in the 43rd round. To no avail.
So even with all this interest in a different sport, the 23-year old said there wasn't much of a decision.
"I just love football more. I have a greater passion for it. It's something I've wanted to do since I was little, so when it came down to 'Do you want to play football or baseball,' it was an easy decision for me."
To Nevada he went, and went on to star at quarterback for four seasons as the Wolfpack starter. 10,098 yards passing, 82 passing touchdowns, 4,112 rushing yards, 59 touchdowns and just 24 interceptions later, we sit here talking about Kaepernick as a potential franchise quarterback for an organization in the NFL.
The biggest question mark for the quarterback is more about the offense he's played in. Nevada features the 'Pistol' offense, which keeps the quarterback out from being directly under center. But that's not a problem to him.
"I don't really think it's been too much of a transition for me. It was just getting back in to old ways. I was always under center before I got to Nevada, take snaps under center every day. So once I got back to being under center it wasn't something that was new to me it was just something I had to get back in rhythm with," Kaepernick remarked. "I think the first step was the Senior Bowl for me just showing everybody I can do that and be successful."
He added that teams haven't been interested in changing up his throwing motion at all, they just want him to speed it up a bit. But if there's one person they won't have to worry about putting the work in, it's Kaepernick. He's been described as the type to be the first one in the building and the last to leave.
"I've always taken pride in being that guy," Kaepernick said. "I've always seen it as, I might not be the most talented person, but I'm not going to be outworked by anybody. I figure if I take that mentality with me, if I am a talented enough player, my hard work will take me to the next level and be able to be successful."
He wouldn't say if he's had any further contact with the Buffalo Bills, but told me that they met at both the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine.
"It went really well," Kaepernick said of the meeting. "At the Combine, we started talking more about football, [Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey] really didn't talk too much about how he would coach us up and how he would change things. He really just wanted to know how [Nevada's] offense worked, what our reads, progressions were, whether we were checking protections and stuff like that."
The Nevada product seems to be checking out with a lot of teams, because there is some buzz that he could even be off the board at some point in the first round.
"Yeah, I've heard that," he remarked. "I think for me, I've had a few coaches tell me there's no chance I'll make it out of the second round which is encouraging. My goal is to try and get in to that first round. I'm very competitive and I don't like to be second to anybody so I'm definitely shooting to get in to that first round."
The leap from the middle rounds to maybe even the top round has been quite rewarding for Kaepernick. "It feels real good to kind of see the hard work paying off. Things just going well, going very smoothly for me, so I've been really happy with it."
If the Bills don't end up getting their franchise quarterback in the first round, they should very strongly consider the type of talent and upside someone like Kaepernick brings to the table. He's raw, but that seems to be the trend with all the quarterback prospects in the 2011 NFL Draft.
The fact of the matter is that Kaepernick is the only player to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in NCAA history, and runs like a gazelle to the tune of 4.53 in the Combine's forty-yard dash.
A 94 mile per hour fastball and 4.53 speed? Those are some tools I'd like to see being worked with by Chan Gailey if they get the opportunity.
The crowning jewel to Kaepernick in school? It wasn't all the accolades, it was one win in particular. When the Wolfpack ruined the BCS title dreams of the rival Boise State Broncos.
"That was the most amazing feeling ever. By far my greatest college victory. That will be something that will stay with me the rest of my life."
Just by the way he speaks, you can tell Kaepernick gets 'it.' It's hard not to root for that type of person if they get put on your favorite team's roster.
Will the Bills draft him if available in the second round? Who knows?
But based on how he comes across even in a ten-minute interview, mixed with his physical prowess, the Bills certainly should consider it.