In the first game of his senior year at Cherry Creek (Col.) High School, Kain Colter tore the labrum and biceps tendon in his throwing arm.
One doctor told Colter to undergo surgery immediately and forget about trying to lead his team back to the state finals.
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A doctor affiliated with Colorado University (a close family friend) suggested Colter could rehab without surgery and try to make it back near season's end.
"I could maybe throw a little bit," Colter recalled being told. "It's not going to be anything like it was before."
Colter returned as a receiver the following Friday wearing a "big ol' shoulder harness." Then he sat out two games for some furious rehab and became Cherry Creek's quarterback again.
He produced more yards on the ground than through the air upon his return (905 to 839 over seven games), but he wanted to try to make amends for the team's title-game loss the previous year.
"It was painful throwing the ball," Colter said. "I'd always feel a pop. It was just a bad feeling. Didn't know if I was ever going to be able to play quarterback again."
While Colter didn't lead Cherry Creek back to the finals (the Bruins lost in the second round), he didn't ruin his chance to be a college quarterback.
In fact, his turn has come earlier than anyone could have guessed.
It's becoming increasingly clear Colter will be Northwestern's primary quarterback when the Wildcats open the season Saturday at Boston College.
With rehabbing senior Dan Persa watching from a vantage point well behind the line of scrimmage -- allowing him to take "mental reps" as the offense worked against the scout team -- Colter executed the vast majority of snaps that mattered during Wednesday's practice.
Unlike late last year, when Colter ran the ball most of the time as NU's quarterback, the 6-foot sophomore can handle just about everything offensive coordinator Mick McCall asks.
"He has much better control of what we're trying to do now than he did," McCall said. "Not that he didn't have pretty good knowledge (of our concepts) before, but his dad (Spencer) is a coach.
"He's been around football quite a bit and he understands the game very, very well. That's why we can use him in all the different ways that we do."
Colter is a second-generation Div. I athlete. His father lettered as a safety at Colorado in 1991 and dressed for the school's 1990 national championship team.
His uncle, Cleveland Colter Jr., teamed with former Bears safety Mark Carrier to form one of the nation's most feared safety duos in the late 1980s. Colter Jr. earned All-America honors in 1988.
Kain Colter is just eager to get out there and make some Boston College defenders miss -- and he won't mind much when they connect, either. He has been off-limits throughout the fall.
"I'm kind of looking forward to it," Colter said. "You get a weird kind of feeling wearing the purple jersey and no one can hit you.
"I think getting in there live and taking that first hit, it'll take some nerves off my shoulders."