Ex-Northwestern star Kain Colter catching up in NFL bid
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter January 22, 2014 10:43PM
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:24PM
MOBILE, Ala. — It was a sign of progress and perhaps a sign of things to come for Northwestern’s Kain Colter.
The quarterback-turned-receiver put a double move on a cornerback in single coverage, gained separation and made a diving catch down the sideline Wednesday — typically the final day of practice during Senior Bowl week, with most NFL teams in attendance.
‘‘I played some receiver every year that I’d been a Northwestern,’’ Colter said. ‘‘It’s just a little bit different because I’ve never really been in the receivers’ room or been in receiver individual drills or worked on the craft. I always was just kind of thrown into the fire. I was able to do some things because I was able to do it athletically. But when you go against these types of athletes, you really have to master your craft and run great routes.’’
Colter was Mr. Everything over his NU career, accounting for 5,023 total yards and 50 touchdowns in his four years. He was the starting quarterback for three seasons but also part-running back and an occasional receiver when quarterback Trevor Siemian came in.
Scouts like his versatility and his high football intelligence after playing quarterback. But his way into the NFL will come as a receiver. He’s also working as a returner in Mobile.
‘‘Obviously, they saw something in me that they felt was worthwhile to get an invitation,’’ said Colter, who is playing for the North team. ‘‘I’m honored by that, and I think it’s a great opportunity. Going against some of the best players in the country is really going to be a measuring stick for me to see where I’m at.’’
Learning the finer details of receiver is a challenge he will focus on exclusively.
‘‘At this level, all the [defensive backs] are good,’’ said Colter, who was interviewed by Bears scouts. ‘‘A little move here isn’t going to beat a DB in the NFL, so you have to really learn the tricks of the trade with your hands and your releases and learning sharp, crisp routes.’’
His route was sharp and crisp Wednesday when he beat cornerback Pierre Desir from Division II Lindenwood and hauled in a tough pass from Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. That came when Colter was lined up outside, but he said he figures the slot will be his main position in the NFL.
Challenges aren’t anything foreign for Colter. He helped the Wildcats become competitive in the Big Ten — playing a huge role in their 10-3 record and Gator Bowl win in the 2012 season — and helped make them a serious option for recruits in and outside the Chicago area.
‘‘One of the main reasons I went there was to help turn the program around and be one of the guys that ignited the fire in that program and got them going upwards,’’ he said. ‘‘People can tell that we’re moving in the right direction.’’