clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kain Colter, Northwestern Wildcats football, No. 2

Kain Colter is Northwestern's triggerman, the dynamo who sets the offense in motion from under center. It's a bummer we only get one year left of this throwin, runnin, receivin machine who's actually a damn good QB.


There are two damn days until Northwestern Wildcats football. It's Kain Colter time.

There are actual, honest to goodness Big Ten football games this very evening. I know!!!! Sure its Minnesota and Indiana and well we're probably going to be watching North Carolina-South Carolina like a normal person, but, still, Big Ten football!

(Apologies to fellow No. 2 for Dwight White for not getting written about, and also, No. 3, Keith Watkins, who we're just skipping over.)

Let's talk about Kain:

Origin myth

Colter comes from Denver, his father a player on Colorado's 1990 championship team. His athleticism was evident right off the bat, as he played all four years on varsity at Cherry Creek, a school in the top flight of Colorado high school football. He got the starting QB gig as a sophomore, throwing for 2,073 yards, running for 463 with 25 combined touchdowns. His junior year, those stats became even more Colter-like as the Bruins went 11-3 and went to the state championship game: 1,786 yards passing, 937 on the ground, and 31 touchdowns. He had an offer from Stanford, and took it after his junior year.

However, on the first play of his senior year, he tore his labrum in his throwing arm. That would keep him out for four games, and he'd move to wide receiver for a fifth game before stepping back under center. As this story from Wildcat Report notes, all of a sudden, Stanford didn't seem so hot on him. He had a solid senior season -- 907 yards passing, 938 rushing, and a spot on the Denver Post all-state team as an "athlete" -- but Stanford wouldn't confirm he was admitted despite spectacular grades, so he decommitted.

That left Colter between Nebraska and Northwestern. He was considering the Huskers, where childhood friend Kenny Bell would go, but the week before his visit, Brion Carnes committed to the Huskers, and Colter realized Nebraska probably wouldn't want him to play quarterback. (Carnes moved from QB to wide receiver last year, and decided this offseason to transfer to Northern Iowa, so Nebraska picked the wrong guy.) That left Colter with Northwestern, and, well, things have paid off.

Let's watch high school Kain:

a) Best music selection of any video yet! From P.S.A. -- ALLOW ME TO REINTRODUCE MYSELF MY NAME IS HOV! -- to "Sky is the Limit," the Lil Wayne mixtape freestyle which constitutes the three minutes in time where he may actually have been the best rapper alive -- when I was five my favorite movie was the gremlins ain't **** to do with this but I just thought that I should mention -- b) no wonder he looks so comfortable running zone read with Venric c) personal fave highlight: the :38 or so mark where he looks like he'll be sacked, gets loose, heads to the sideline, cuts back, then turns to the defenders as he crosses the goal line like "WHAT?!?"

Anyway, I never mentioned Kain's rankings, so: No. 18 dual-threat QB per 247's ocmposite. There.

At Northwestern

Kain was all set to redshirt his freshman year, but then Dan Persa's injury happened, and he was forced into duty. In retrospect, this is very regrettable. Colter used up a year of eligibility for three games. In those games, a not-so-close game against Illinois, a blowout against Wisconsin, and the TicketCity Bowl, he went 3-for-9 with an interception. He actually played amazingly in the TicketCity Bowl -- 105 yards rushing, two touchdowns, a 32-yard catch -- and obviously priority No. 1 was ending the bowl streak, so it was smart to play him. But what we wouldn't do for another year of Kain, and that's the ghost of Dan Persa's Achilles.

He was supposed to be a backup as a sophomore, but the Achilles wasn't healed yet, so he started three games right off the bat.

It was clearly evident was that Colter was a dynamic player: he completed 67.1 percent of his (mainly short) passes, with six touchdowns and just one pick. After splitting out wide post-Persa, he had 43 catches for 466 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 654 yards and nine touchdowns. The results, though were mixed. There were some golden moments: a 115-yard receiving game against Indiana where he also threw two touchdowns, and a win against Nebraska where the ball was in his hands for the second half, and he responded with an 81-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert and two rushing touchdowns in a thrilling win. But there were also some learning moments, like a game against Army where he couldn't get the offense moving and was subbed out at points for the stronger Trevor Siemian.

He came back as Northwestern's leading passer, rusher, and receiver, which is incredible. And junior year, he made himself somebody other teams around the B1G have to know: NU's starter (with Siemian playing some backup), he threw for 872 yards, ran for 894, and, well, was the team's starting quarterback in a year they won 10 games and a bowl. Siemian ended up with more passing yards, but Colter was the dynamo. He still occasionally bowed out on passing drives and split out wide, especially in the middle of the season, but he was QB1A, and an explosive one.

Career highlight

He's done a lot of cool things... but for me, it has to be the end zone dive in the upset victory over Nebraska:

It seems he agrees. It was just such a huge moment in such a big game, and it was clear he was exerting every ounce of his energy to get that damn ball across that damn goal line. That 6-7 year wasn't as good as last year's 10-3, but that full extension to clip that pylon is forever.

Anagram of choice

Discovering the Wildcats' true inner selves through spelling

Kain Colter, anagrammed, is


Kain's got one season left, and it's his time to write Northwestern history. (Also considered: "Iron tackle," which sould've been amazing for not a quarterback, "anti-locker," which is a player who just likes to get changed out in the open, "loin racket," which is a brothel, "oink cartel," which is Oscar-Meyer, "retina lock," which is a much less romantic way of saying you locked eyes with somebody, "orca tinkle," which you don't even notice because the whole ocean is water, and "alone trick," which is somebody who would go to a loin racket.)

Relevant musical selection

"Diamonds from Sierra Leone," Kanye West

"It's Kanye, but some of my plaques still say Kayne." There are gonna be some plaques reading "Kain" after this year.

How Kain Colter should enter football games

Hype videos


How he can help

We already know what Kain brings. Venric Mark would be a very impressive running back with anybody under quick, because he's so damn fast. But Kain's ability to force defenses to account for both Mark and himself on any given play makes Northwestern's zone reads and options dynamic. This won't change, and this will continue to be awesome forever and ever and ever.

We also know that on passing drives, Northwestern will bring in Trevor Siemian. These are just the facts.

Run plays and short passes will make up the majority of what Colter does, and that will be great. We know he's good at that -- we've seen it before. No complaints if he just continues to be that guy -- it totally works.

But in dreams? I'd really like to see Northwestern, maybe once or twice a game, truly have fun with a spectacular athlete in his final year. His arm is supposedly stronger this year than it ever has been before as he continues to shake off the labrum issue from way back when -- let him test it out deep, just to keep people on their toes. Let him play wide receiver, which is fine because he's very athletic, runs routes well, and has great hands --but don't lock in on him, and have him do things that scare opposing defenses poopless, like randomly swinging next to Siemian in the backfield. Kain is Northwestern's QB1A, and an incredibly exciting one at that, no matter what. But a boy can dream about the possibilities to make Northwestern absolutely wild.


Phil Steele 4th team all-Big Ten QB, Manning Award Watch list

Depth chart

As noted, QB1A, with no controversy or hatin.

More from Sippin' On Purple: