Northwestern’s Kain Colter (2) runs for a 42-yard gain as Penn State’s Jordan Hill (47) and Gerald Hodges give chase during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

QB Kain Colter comfortable taking control of Northwestern’s offense

SHARE QB Kain Colter comfortable taking control of Northwestern’s offense
SHARE QB Kain Colter comfortable taking control of Northwestern’s offense

After Northwestern lost to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on New Year’s Eve, quarterback/receiver/running back Kain Colter famously said he wasn’t interested in playing anything but quarterback in 2012.

It might have seemed bold for a sophomore to say that, but Colter had been forced into the spotlight when quarterback Dan Persa wasn’t healthy enough to start the Wildcats’ first three games last season (Persa had strained a muscle in his right calf while rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon). After Persa came back in October, Colter moved around from quarterback to receiver to running back.

But no more. Colter is the No. 1 quarterback this spring, with rising sophomore Trevor Siemian and redshirt freshmen Zach Oliver and P.J. Carollo backing him up.

‘‘He’s the guy now,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said of Colter. ‘‘With that comes a lot of confidence, and the same thing with Trevor. I feel really confident with that group.”

Colter isn’t shy about taking ownership of the team. It’s something he probably had prepared for since he backed up Evan Watkins in the last three games of the 2010 season, when Persa went down with the torn Achilles.

‘‘I feel like I proved myself last year that I could play, and guys can expect me to do big things on the field,” Colter said. ‘‘Off the field, I try to lead these guys and lead by example. As a quarterback, when things go wrong, you have to raise the level and get these guys going again.”

Colter put up impressive numbers in the three major offensive categories last season. He was 55-for-82 for 673 yards and six touchdowns as a passer, had 135 carries for 654 yards and nine touchdowns as a rusher and caught 43 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver.

And with receivers such as Demetrius Fields, Tony Jones, Christian Jones and perhaps Kyle Prater (if his NCAA waiver comes through) at Colter’s disposal, the Wildcats’ passing game should continue to be a strength.

There isn’t a doubt that Colter is ready to be NU’s starting quarterback. After the Wildcats’ first spring scrimmage March 31, Colter said the game is slowing down and coming to him.

‘‘I’m happy to be the guy that the offense – and the team – looks to when things are going down,” Colter said. ‘‘I want to be the guy that goes out there and makes a game-changing play or gets the momentum back. That’s the biggest thing I learned from Dan.”

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