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Colin Kaepernick bids farewell to former coach at Pitman commencement
kaep grad pic
San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Pitman High alumnus Colin Kaepernick surprises his former football coach, Brandon Harris, during Thursday's commencement ceremony. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

There is a special relationship that exists between a player and a coach. Just ask NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The former Pitman High student returned to his alma mater during Thursday night's commencement ceremony in a surprise appearance to pay tribute to his longtime mentor and friend, Brandon Harris.

“The main reason I’m back is because I had to say goodbye to one of my good friends, one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” said Kaepernick. “I’ve had a lot of great memories with him. He’s worked with me a lot. He was the first person to let me run the ball a couple of times.”

Harris, who first served as a defensive coordinator on the football team and then as head coach, will be moving to Idaho to help take care of his mother.

“I want to wish him well when he goes back home, and we know you’re going to do an amazing job out there coach,” said Kaepernick.

Although his appearance was cut short, Kaepernick didn’t part ways without congratulating the graduates and wishing them a prosperous future. Kaepernick also bid farewell to one of his favorite teachers, David Jack.

“Congratulations to the class of 2013 for graduating and making your family proud,” Kaepernick said. “This is just the beginning of your journey. Keep working hard and chase your dream.”

The graduates left Pitman with a first-hand lesson on how their teachers and coaches can have a positive impact in their future endeavors — and even more admiration for Turlock's favorite NFL quarterback.