Colter's Coming Out Party

Northwestern sophomore quarterback Kain Colter has been asked to do a lot for the Wildcats, and has garnered admiration from his teammates, coaches, and NU fans. On Saturday, he rose to a tough challenge and showed the entire nation why he is special.

In the press conference following his team's upset win over No. 9 Nebraska, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald uttered a line identical to one he's been feeding the media for the past month.

"I think I've been singing [Kain Colter's] praise all year, probably more than any other player because he's earned it," Fitzgerald said yet again.

But this time, the nation finally got to see the player Fitzgerald has been praising all season, and Colter didn't disappoint, leading his team to a victory as the sole game manager for the Wildcats.

Colter's national coming out party in Lincoln was eerily similar to the debut of the player he replaced—star Dan Persa—who replaced an injured Mike Kafka and led his team to victory on the road against No. 4 Iowa as a sophomore in 2009.

But Colter is more polished than Persa was at that point, and Saturday's performance erased any doubts of his ability to win games at quarterback for NU.

"There's a lot of confidence in not only Kain's ability to play quarterback, but with the ball in his hands, usually good things happen," Fitzgerald said.

Good things do, indeed happen, as Colter torched the vaunted Huskers defense in all phases of the game, rushing for 57 yards and two touchdowns, passing for 115 yards and a touchdown and catching three passes for 57 yards.

Colter's progression from last season has been remarkable in all phases of the offense. He attributes his versatility to his improvement at quarterback.

"The biggest thing (being on field already) helps with is seeing the defense," he said.

We all knew Colter could run, and as of late people who follow the program have grown accustomed to seeing him catch the ball. But this was the first time he's been called upon to manage a game since the loss to Army.

This time, on the big stage, Colter delivered.

Considering how one-dimensional he was at quarterback to start the year, it's impressive how honest Colter was able to keep the Husker defense. He exploited the secondary for a big 81-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert, which was instrumental in opening up running room.

It was evident all along that Colter had the tools to contribute somewhere on the offense—possibly at receiver or quarterback—but Saturday made it clear that he belongs at quarterback.

However, despite all the athletic skills Colter possesses, his biggest tool may be his confidence.

Not many sophomore quarterbacks can hold their poise and manage a game to near perfection in Lincoln against the No. 9 team in the country. Colter knew he could, and he did.

"I know this is a huge upset to everybody else, but we came in believing we were going to win," he said.

That kind of swagger is essential for a quarterback, and Colter is the ultimate competitor. This is the same player who admitted to the media following the win at Indiana last week that he "wanted to score 60."

His confidence is infectious and it's helped him win over the trust of his teammates.

"Kain had a great game," Ebert said. "His poise and his confidence, you can trust him with everything."

Colter is quickly developing into a leader for the Cats, and if he continues to progress at this rate, he could be headed toward a special future—dare I say, one with Heisman-campaign potential.

It's too early to say Colter will be the next Dan Persa—he missed a wide-open Drake Dunsmore on what should have been a touchdown pass, and this is just one game, after all.

However, the potential is there for Colter to be even better.

Saturday's victory in Lincoln was a program-boosting win for the Cats, but more importantly they found their future and the face of the program in the future.

The future is now, and it's looking as bright as ever.

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