Suggestions that he would be better at something other than quarterback are nothing new to Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Dating back to high school, Kaepernick was told that his lanky 6-foot-6 frame and 90 mph fastball made him a better fit for Major League Baseball.
Countless MLB scouts told him he could be drafted as a high school senior. That never materialized because of Kaepernick's reluctance to give up his dream of pursuing football and playing quarterback at the college level.
After receiving interest from a few East Coast schools -- Duke, Boston College and Clemson -- as a walk-on, frustration set in for Kaepernick, who began to doubt his future. That was until Nevada head coach Chris Ault decided to take a chance on the rangy righty.
In his first three years as a starter, Kaepernick produced virtual-reality type numbers. He became the second player in FBS history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons in Nevada's pistol offense.
Kaepernick's production might have gone largely unnoticed around the country. For Ault, nothing Kaepernick does is overlooked.
"Colin has all of the athletic ability you could want in a quarterback, especially for a quarterback in our pistol offense," Ault said. "He has the leadership that you need and the confidence you want in a senior quarterback. But the special thing about Colin that truly sets him apart is his competitiveness."
It's Kaepernick's athleticism and competitiveness that piques interest in the NFL scouting community, which is wondering if he's more of an athlete than a quarterback due to the gimmick offense that he runs and the mechanical flaws he possesses.
The prevailing thought is that a move to wide receiver would best suit his skill set at the next level.
Not so fast.
After another stellar showing in Nevada's 27-13 win over BYU two weeks ago, giving the Wolf Pack their first 4-0 start since 1991 and first top 25 ranking since 1948, Kaepernick is on a mission to show scouts he should be viewed as an athletic quarterback and not as a future receiver. Through the first five games, he has completed a career-best 69.9 percent of his passes for 1,048 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions.
The five-game stretch that Kaepernick has put together, which included a masterful performance against California during Week 3 where he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns, has increased his draft stock among analysts. He is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated senior quarterback behind Jake Locker (Washington), Christian Ponder (Florida State) and Pat Devlin (Delaware).
So, what's been the difference?
"I feel this offseason there was a greater focus as a whole as far as the receivers knowing we need to throw the ball to win a championship," Kaepernick said in an interview with ESPN. "They need to see the same windows I see. Our receivers have a great feel for where I want them to be right now, and that's showing on the field."
While he has developed into a better passer, Kaepernick still has questionable mechanics, has to prove he can take snaps under center and is inconsistent on intermediate routes.
However, being more efficient with the ball and his propensity to make things happen on the run -- he's rushed for 548 yards and nine touchdowns through the first five games -- has one veteran NFL scout intrigued, and he even compares Kaepernick to another athletic No. 10 that currently stars in Tennessee.
"The comparison to Vince Young is out there," the scout said. "They have a lot of the same qualities as quarterbacks. Obviously Young played against a higher level of competition in the Big 12, compared to what Kaepernick deals with in the WAC. But, they both have flaws as quarterbacks; Young with his release and Kaepernick with his footwork and consistency.
"Young still has the same flaws today as he had in college. And it's possible that Kaepernick never develops properly either. But, the way that he's playing right now has changed my attitude about where he fits in the NFL -- he's a quarterback."
Perception is reality.
Chris Steuber is a Draft Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange. E-mail Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ChrisSteuber.