Persa Getting Closer

Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa has not been able to play in the Wildcats' first two games, but is getting very close to a return. The senior is going week-to-week with the Northwestern medical staff, but is growing more confident in a return for Big Ten conference play.

When Dan Persa finished his workout in front of Northwestern team doctors last week, he felt ready to play. Once again, he was not given medical clearance to play.

At this point, Persa has no control over his status for each game. He feels able to play, but the medical staff is being cautious in leading him back to the field.

"I understand why they're trying to by safe about it," Persa said of the doctor's decision. "It makes sense. I know I want to play but in the long run, I'd rather miss two or three games than play two and miss the rest of the season."

As he has done each week, Persa was on the field more than 20 minutes after practice—long after the team had left—and was working on footwork drills in front of the doctors. His hope is to be ready to play on Saturday against Army. Of course, he doesn't have a say in that—it's the doctor's call.

"I just want to show (the team doctors) I can do everything and go from there," Persa said. "I feel like I'm ready to play, it's just them telling me I'm not allowed to."

Persa is making great strides in his recovery, which often takes up to 12 months. His most recent milestone was dressing in uniform for the Eastern Illinois game—something which he had not done since the Iowa game last November.

The next step in Persa's recovery will be taking a snap in a game. He is confident that will happen soon.

"Even if I play this week or if I don't play this week, I think I'll be 100-percent ready for Illinois," he said.

With Persa unable to play, sophomore quarterback Kain Colter has stepped into the starting role. In his two starts, Colter has completed 73 percent of his passes for 301 yards, while adding 210 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Most importantly, Colter has led the Wildcats to two wins.

For Persa, it has been a relief to see Colter succeed in the starting role.

"I'm excited for him, he's doing really well," Persa said of Colter's performance. "It takes a lot of pressure off me; I don't have to hurry back when we're winning games. I'm happy for him."

Persa said he is "definitely" confident that he will ready to play in the Wildcats' Big Ten-opener against Illinois; however, he does not want to set a date for a return.

"At the end of the day, I don't want to just say I'm coming back at this date and not be ready, I want to come back just when I'm ready," Persa said. "I feel like I'm so close, I can reach out and touch it. It's getting frustrating but I want to stay the course."

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