I do not know what shoe size Kain Colter wears, but he has big shoes to fill at Northwestern replacing the graduated Dan Persa.
Persa entered the start of the 2011 season as a dark horse Heisman candidate and the Wildcats had hopes of a successful run toward the top of the Big Ten standings behind the talented quarterback and his array of weapons.
Unfortunately, for Persa and the Wildcats, they finished with a disappointing 3-5 record in conference and 6-7 overall.
This was disappointing considering the high expectations surrounding the program. Persa battled a nagging Achilles injury for the better part of his senior season that forced him out of three games to begin the season and limited him in many others.
The injury to Persa opened the door to the sophomore, Colter, to make a name for himself and impress head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Colter went 2-1 as a starter to open the season, but a disappointing loss to Army sent Colter back to the bench when Persa was deemed healthy enough to make his season debut.
A raw passer that lacks the classic pocket passer skill set to put up gaudy statistics in the passing game is not the forte of Colter, who is known for making plays with his legs.
In fact, Colter led the Wildcats in rushing last season with 654 yards and nine touchdowns and had a 100-yard effort vs. Eastern Illinois with three trips to the end zone.
The versatile Colter had a knack for making plays in this offense no matter where he lined up. Earning playing time despite the presence of Persa in a variety of roles, Colter was a Swiss army knife for Pat Fitzgerald to deploy at his disposal.
In addition to leading the team in rushing, Colter also finished as the third most prolific receiver on the team behind seniors Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore.
Colter did everything but kick field goals for the offense in 2011.
In 2012, Colter will be asked only to take his versatile skill set to the quarterback position in which his legs and arm will keep defenses honest to respect his dual threat ability.
Behind the right arm of Colter and his two legs, Northwestern is hoping the diminutive Colter can lead the team to the program’s first bowl win since 1949.
If there is one thing Colter proved last season, it is that he is capable of doing many things one would not expect from him.
Expect the unexpected this season for Colter and the 2012 Wildcats.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.