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Kaepernick returns home

Pitman grad to play against nearby Fresno State today

Kaepernick returns home


POSTED November 12, 2010 8:48 p.m.
Back in 2006, Jordan Inabnit was part of an epic battle that not too many people outside of the Pitman High football program have heard of. He beat out a certain future NCAA Football record-setter to become the quarterback of the Pride junior varsity squad.That episode was enough motivation for the loser of the battle to come back the next season to make a point.“Of course, he leapfrogged me and I became his wide receiver,” Inabnit said. “And history took off from there.”It certainly did.The story of Colin Kaepernick doesn’t start with him throwing a football when he was 6 months old. It’s built with some roller coaster bumps, from being the bi-racial child adopted into a white family to having to prove himself in front of his football coaches. They had no idea that the tall, skinny kid who lost in his first high school quarterback competition would become a national figure, one that will lead the University of Nevada in its Western Athletic Conference showdown with Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno at 7:30 p.m. today, with the game to be televised on ESPN.Even this game is another chance for Kaepernick to prove himself.When he was a Pitman High senior trying to convince college coaches that he was not going to play baseball, Fresno State coach Pat Hill stopped by Turlock. He was there to recruit standout running back Anthony Harding. Kaepernick was curious if the Bulldogs were looking for a quarterback. Hill said no.“There’s definitely motivation to go out there and perform well and show them what they missed out on,” Kaepernick said about today’s game.But he also said he doesn’t harbor resentment toward the Fresno State program. The Bulldogs had enough quarterbacks lined up for the next few years, including Turlock High graduate Tom Brandstater, who was the starting quarterback at the time. Plus, the Bulldogs run a pro-style offense that requires a traditional deep-pocket passer.Kaepernick, on the other hand, is fast. Really, really fast — something that has benefitted Nevada’s pistol offense. The scheme requires the mobile quarterback to line up 4 yards behind the center, with the running back right behind Kaepernick. The pistol allows the only school that offered Kaepernick a scholarship to use some elements of the spread-option and combine it with downfield, north-south running attack.Not too many teams have been able to stop the scheme and Kaepernick has achieved a rare accomplishment: He’s the only player in NCAA history to pass and rush for 1,000 yards in both categories, and he’s bound to do it a third time this season. So far, he’s at 1,990 passing yards and 793 rushing yards, while accounting for 30 touchdowns and leading the Wolf Pack to an 8-1 overall record, 3-1 in the WAC.Fresno State only hopes to slow him down. The Bulldogs (6-2 overall, 4-1 WAC) have said this week they are up for the challenge. They are going up against a determined quarterback in Kaepernick, who is expected to play in front of about 100 people from his Turlock neighborhood and church, Good Shepard Lutheran.At the same time, Kaepernick doesn’t feel any added pressure. He just wants to win, a sentiment also expressed by his father. Rick Kaepernick said his son has a good relationship with Pat Hill and the Bulldogs, evident by the fact that Hill approached the younger Kaepernick when he went to watch Harding work out in front of pro scouts in Fresno. The Fresno State coach congratulated him on his success and told him he had the green light to go anywhere he wanted during Harding’s NFL audition.“He harbors no resentment that I’m aware of,” Rick Kaepernick said of his son. “He likes being out in Nevada.”It’s been a long journey for Kaepernick. He had to prove himself throughout high school and in college. He made his college debut in 2007 against Fresno State, finishing up the day with an impressive 384 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions on 23-for-36 passing in a 49-41 loss. He redeemed himself in the next two Fresno State games by leading the Wolf Pack to wins, including a 41-28 triumph in Fresno in 2008.Yeah, that’s not too far away from where he lost that infamous quarterback battle. Inabnit — the big winner that day who went on to have a stellar career at Occidental College as a wide receiver — had a nice chuckle after the story was recently brought up to him. Kaepernick remembers it, too.“As a freshman,” he said, “I was so skinny that I think they thought I wouldn’t be able to play at the weight that I was.”He’s now 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, and an NCAA-record holder.To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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