“All the things Cam Newton does, Colin Kaepernick does better.” This bold statement is straight from the mouth of Competitive Edge Sports (CES) founder Chip Smith, the man who’s had the distinct privilege of training both players.
Smith’s declaration piqued my interest. I wanted to know more about Colin Kaepernick. Born in Wisconsin and raised in California, football became a passion at a young age. Like most quarterbacks his father was his childhood coach. Over the years he’s blossomed into a remarkable player. He’s the only Division 1 quarterback to have passed for over 10,000 yards and rushed for over 4,00 yards in a collegiate career. Plus he’s the only quarterback to have passed for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
His stats are impressive, but this player is more than numbers. Smith says he’s a driven, focused competitor. Throughout training he was the first one in and the last one out. His last rep was as good as his first and he wanted to do everything all the other guys did. He’s analytical, extremely smart, a man of character and a leader. Recently I had the privilege of speaking with Kaepernick and truly believe this quarterback is a diamond in the rough.
CS– In regards to football who were your influences growing up?
Kaepernick– Besides my father, my high school coach Brandon Harris, I think he had a big influence on me. He was very smart in how he game planned for teams. We didn’t have the most talented players but we’d have a good scheme, which taught me the mental side of the game is as important, if not more important than the physical side.
CS– It should be noted that Kaepernick excelled in football, basketball and baseball in high school. He received several scholarship offers to play Division 1 baseball but turned them all down in favor of taking his only Division 1 football scholarship offer from the University of Nevada.
CS– What is it about football that made you turn down all other scholarships and take the one football scholarship offer?
Kaepernick– For me football’s always been my passion, it’s been my love. Growing up I watched Brett Favre every weekend and he played the game like he was a kid out there, playing with so much excitement and passion for the game. Plus spending time with teammates you build a camaraderie and going toe to toe with another team, there’s nothing like it.CS- What did it mean to you to be the quarterback of a Division 1 school (The University of Nevada)?
Kaepernick– The first thing that comes to mind for me is responsibility. There’s a lot of responsibility of being the quarterback of a team as well as being the leader of the team. Especially in Reno where there’s no professional team, we are the show in town. You have to carry yourself a certain way so everyone respects the program, respects what you’re doing and they don’t look down upon you.CS- What was your relationship like with Coach Ault while at Nevada?
Kaepernick- I had a growing relationship with our coach. My first few years he was really tough on me because he was trying to make me better and make sure I was ready for every game. As I progressed during my junior and senior season we had more of a partnership type relationship where he would run things past me and it got to the point where he basically said, “You’re the coach on the field, you’re comfortable with what you’re doing just go out there and play football.”CS– Sometimes coaches are hardest on the players they see the most potential in.
Kaepernick– Definitely and I think the reason he pushed me so hard was to get the best out of me.
CS– I can’t talk to you without mentioning Boise St. This past season, on senior night, they rolled into Reno amidst BCS National Championship hype. You said your team felt overlooked, disrespected. At the half you’re down 17. As the leader what did you tell your team in the locker room?
Kaepernick– I told them we can come back from this, we’re moving the ball we just need to cut out the little mistakes. I told the offensive line to keep grinding, our skill players were gonna make plays for us. In the second half our offensive line started responding like they’ve never responded before and started blowing Boise off the ball. They were the real reason we were able to get back in that game.
CS– What was going through your mind when they lined up to kick a field goal at the end of regulation?
Kaepernick– A lot of us on the sideline were just praying for another shot because we knew if we went into overtime there was no way we were going to lose that game.
CS– What did it mean to you to walk off the field that night with the win?
Kaepernick– It’s something I can’t even describe. There were so many emotions, all the blood, sweat and tears to get to that point, not only for me but for my whole team and to see all our hard work pay off, it was a real special moment.
CS– What has life been like for you post college?
Kaepernick– It’s definitely different. It’s all football all day. While I trained at CES we worked out from 9-5 everyday. From there I went to the Senior Bowl, the combine and back to Reno to get ready for Pro Day. After Pro Day private workouts began for teams and now I’m into visits, flying around the country meeting personnel from different teams. It’s a surreal experience, you’re meeting people you’ve watched on Sunday. It’s something you dream about growing up but you never really know if you’ll be able to make it to that point, but now that I’m to that point it almost seems like this can’t be happening.
CS– There are many guys who dream of playing in the NFL, but only a select few make it, it must be an amazing feeling knowing your name will be called in a couple of weeks.
Kaepernick– It’s a special moment to see all your hard work pay off and get you where you need to be. It’s something I won’t be able to describe when my name is called but I’m excited for it.
CS– Among the quarterbacks at the combine you ran the second fastest 40, had the strongest arm (throwing the football 59 mph) and scored a 37 (third highest) on the Wonderlic . You’re draft stock is definitely rising. Do you think you’re peaking at the right time?
Kaepernick– I think I’m peaking at the right time and have been able to open the eyes of NFL teams to show them what I’m capable of.
CS– When asked which teams he’s worked out for, he said he wasn’t allowed to disclose that information. Although he did say he’s worked out for 13 teams and has more visits set up.
CS– At CES you trained along side Tyrod Taylor of Virginia Tech. How did that level of competition elevate your game?
Kaepernick– Training with Tyrod was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. He’s a very explosive player but I didn’t want him to be more explosive than me so I wanted to keep training. We had a very competitive time doing all the drills together and I think it’s turning out well for both of us.
CS– Running the Pistol offense at Nevada how comfortable are you under center?
Kaepernick– Being under center is something I’m very comfortable with. I was under center my whole career until I got to Nevada and even while I was at Nevada we took snaps under center every day at practice. It wasn’t something new to me or that I wasn’t used to.
When I got to the Senior Bowl everyone was surprised I could take a snap under center, which wasn’t a big deal. For me it was almost easier to take a snap under center and drop back because you don’t have to worry about looking to catch the ball before you read the defense. You can keep your eyes on the defense the whole time, so I see that (being under center) as easier.
I’ve always said either you can play or you can’t, it doesn’t matter what offense you’re in. You’re going to perform game day or you’re not.
CS- If I’m an owner, general manager, coach why should I draft you? What are your strengths and how will you be an asset to my team?
Kaepernick– You’ll get a player who’s not going to be unprepared for anything. My preparation is what makes me successful on the field.
Another thing that separates me is my leadership and hard work, especially at the next level you have to show everybody that you’re there to work hard, you want to win games and you’re not there to just be on the team. You’re playing side by side with all pro’s and veterans, you have to show them you’re there to be successful, you’re not there to play games or to mess up one of their years.
You’re also going to draft a player who’s not going to have any off the field issues. I’m not going to put the organization or team in a bad position.
CS– Where will you be on draft day?
Kaepernick– I’ll be back home in Turlock, CA with my family. It’s an exciting time for me and my family.
CS– Speaking of the draft, this year’s draft is unique due to the lockout. Obviously you don’t have anything to compare it to, but with all the uncertainty surrounding the NFL what’s it like being a part of this particular draft?
Kaepernick– I wouldn’t say the process is any different. It’s just gonna be different once you get drafted because you’re not going to be able to get with your team or get a playbook to start working. It depends when this is all resolved but it does change how much preparation you get going into your first season.
CS– With all the hype who or what keeps you grounded?
Kaepernick– My faith, which is my foundation and my family. When I go back home I’m not anyone special I’m just another member of the family.
CS– What drives you?
Kaepernick– Going through this process, I think the biggest thing is everyone that doubted me and told me I wasn’t capable of things. I told my dad I wasn’t going to let someone tell me what I’m capable of. If I think I’m able to do something and I put my mind to it, then I’m able to do it and prove all those people wrong.
CS– Well, I think you’re doing just that!
On April 28 the 2011 NFL draft begins. There are many questions surrounding this draft, but this I know, whoever drafts Colin Kaepernick is getting an exciting quarterback and a class act. Smith believes he could be the face of a franchise, not bad for a guy who was offered only one football scholarship.