Scarcely a month ago, incoming freshman Kellen Kiilsgaard took a quick trip down to Stanford to get a lay of the land and to help his acclimation with his teammates. After he left, the prep All-American quarterback called Cardinal head coach Jim Harbaugh and asked if he could switch to defense and help the team safety. Kiilsgaard was a highly recruited and regarded two-way athlete in high school, and several of his new Stanford teammates explained the holes on their roster at safety.
In a somewhat surprising move Wednesday, Kiilsgaard has come back to offense. Less than two weeks into his first fall camp at Stanford, the 6'2" athlete is done on defense and is making another position switch. Unlike the conversation with Harbaugh a month ago, Kiilsgaard this time was not the one asking for the move.
"This one is from Coach Harbaugh," Kiilsgaard says. "Coach Harbaugh approached me and said that he would rather be using me on offense. Today was kind of the day to experiment and get a feel for different spots where I could help out the team possibly on the offensive side of the ball."
Wednesday was one of Stanford's two-a-day practice schedules, and Kiilsgaard split his schedule between the "U" tight end position and fullback.
"This morning I focused more on kind of a motion/slot type of tight end, back and forth on the line of scrimmage," he explains. "Tonight was more of an emphasis on fullback. I ran a lot of scout team fullback, running some routes out in the flat and finding ways to get underneath. I'm also working on some blocking today."
"I'm not really sure how it's all going to end up," Kiilsgaard admits. "It was a surprise to move back to offense, but it's definitely not a problem. I'm happy to go out and try my best wherever they stick me, and see where I end up."
For the first nine days of this training camp, Kiilsgaard ran with the defensive backfield at safety but was unable to climb higher than the third string. His acclimation to the position at the college level was admittedly slower than probably he or the Cardinal coaches had expected. Stanford hopes he can climb the curve faster now playing offense.
"He's a more forward-playing player," Harbaugh offers. "We're trying to find a position for him, and we will."
It may take a few practices before the offensive coaching staff decides where Kiilsgaard best fits, but the freshman is already encouraged and eager after just one day's work.
"I've always been comfortable with the football, so really I was surprised at how fast I picked up all of the positions I tried out today on the offensive side of the football," Kiilsgaard says. "I can't really give you an idea of where I see that I'll end up, but hopefully it's sooner rather than later so I know where I will focus."
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