Posted by Adam Jacobi
To say that there's a heavy amount of expectations being put on Dan Persa (pictured at right) at Northwestern this year is, if anything, an understatement. Persa is the subject of "Chicago's Heisman Candidate" billboards around the city, and for good reason; he was the team's leading passer and rusher in 2010, and he was ninth in the nation in passing efficiency.
At the same time, Persa is still recovering from a major Achilles tendon injury last November, and even though his recovery process has been relatively uneventful -- being 22 has its benefits -- there's a chasm of difference between getting one's Achilles fully healed and getting back to 100% as a football player, and Persa is dealing with that part of the process now.
To that end, Northwestern announced on Tuesday that Kain Colter, who had been the starting quarterback in the spring while Persa was still rehabbing his Achilles, is now a co-starter at quarterback with Persa, just 10 days before Northwestern kicks off its season at Boston College. Here's more from the Chicago Tribune:
Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald called quarterback Kain Colter “1b” on Tuesday, implying he’s all but even with Dan Persa.
But Fitzgerald also said of Persa: “I fully expect him to start the opener. We’ll see how things go in the next week and a half.”
“You can ask all you want,” he said, “but I’m not telling you anything.”
One could also interpret this as just good news on the maturation of Kain more than a bad omen about Persa. Kain does have a great deal of experience with the first string offense now, having been the starter while Persa has been sidelined. If Fitzgerald is confident in two of his quarterbacks, then Northwestern has the luxury of bringing Persa back at whatever speed best suits his recovery process without harming the Wildcats' spread offense too badly.
That said, Persa's not there to be a backup, and Fitzgerald knows that. Don't expect Persa to be on the sidelines very often during Big Ten play unless an foreseen setback happens.