At this point, everyone knows that 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will spend Super Bowl Sunday with more cameras and eyes on him than just about anyone else on the planet. What they may not know is that he’s only getting that chance because of a sport other than football.
Colin Kaepernick, whose quarterbacking future was made possible by prep basketball success — Getty
It’s been a well documented part of the Kaepernick saga that he lettered in three varsity sports at Turlock (Cal.) Pitman High. While his first love was football, Kaepernick was also an impressive varsity basketball player and threw a mean fastball. It’s also well known that Kaepernick played for Nevada in college simply because they were the only school to offer him a football scholarship.
What is much less well known is that Nevada never saw Kaepernick play a single football game. In fact, they were recruiting Kaepernick but hadn’t offered him a scholarship and weren’t complete sold on him. In fact, the 6-foot-4 senior was deemed a concern because he was too skinny. Yet former Nevada coach Chris Ault realized that Kaepernick was a heck of an athlete, so he had his assistant coaches “keep tabs” on the lanky teen.
Then Barry Sacks, one of Nevada’s assistant coaches, went to one of Kaepernick’s basketball games. Kaepernick won the tip off, went down court and flushed home a reverse dunk. As noted in a recent column from the Sacramento Bee, Kaepernick took over the game, then went immediately to the hospital and was treated for pneumonia.
The rest, as they say, is history.
"The young man was captivating, to say the least," Sacks told Newsday. "I called up coach Ault and I said, 'We're crazy if we don't take this guy. He will lead us into the futureland.' "
To think that Kaepernick might not have even had a college quarterbacking job without that one basketball cameo is a pretty remarkable twist to the quarterback’s growing legend. If he wins on Sunday, that will make the saga even more remarkable going forward.
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