Cubs surprise Kaepernick with selection

Focus is on football, but he's flattered to be drafted

June 11, 2009 

The last time Colin Kaepernick fired a fastball past a batter was in the spring of 2006, when the right-hander was still pitching at Pitman High.

The 6-foot, 6-inch star tossed his glove aside, though, when he took a football scholarship at the University of Nevada.

Since his arrival, he has become one of the nation's most prolific quarterbacks while directing the spread attack -- accounting for 3,979 yards and 39 touchdowns last fall.

The Chicago Cubs, though, haven't forgotten what Kaepernick can do on the mound: They selected him in the 43rd round of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft.

Kaepernick was one of the final-day surprises, catching not only himself, but Nevada's football staff off-guard.

"It is obviously very flattering. I laughed when my brother told me the news," said Kaepernick, who has two years of eligibility remaining with Nevada. "As everyone knows, I am 100 percent committed to Nevada football and the future of this program."

The Cubs kept tabs on Kaepernick during his senior year at Pitman, when he earned all-Stanislaus District honors after going 9-2 with a 1.27 ERA.

He was among the district's most sought-after recruits for baseball -- and the area's top athlete in the 2005-06 school year -- but bypassed college baseball because of his desire to continue playing football.

Even after not pitching for three years, Kaepernick's athleticism and winning ways make him an attractive pick.

He was the Central California Conference MVP in football as a senior, and all-CCC in basketball and baseball. His football team won its second straight CCC title, his hoops team took defending state champ Oak Ridge to the limit in the playoffs and the baseball team played in the section championship series.

Kaepernick could sign a pro contract with the Cubs and retain his eligibility for football, under NCAA rules.

It's not the first time Chicago has turned to college football for an arm: Jeff Samardzija, a Notre Dame receiver projected as a first-round NFL pick in 2007, signed a long-term deal with the Cubs days before the football draft. A fifth-round pick in the 2006 baseball draft, he had a 2.70 ERA in seven starts for Class A teams at Boise and Peoria -- then caught 78 passes with the Irish in the fall of 2006.

Samardzija is a hard-throwing righty who goes 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. Kaepernick is a powerful righty who is an inch taller and five pounds lighter.

While it's unlikely Kaepernick would play baseball this summer, the Cubs could sign him with the long-term plan of having him play with a short- season league next summer.

It would give the Cubs a couple of months to watch Kaepernick pitch, yet get him back to Nevada for football season.

Kaepernick wasn't the only Nevada quarterback taken in the draft: Mason Magleby, an incoming freshman from Del Oro High in Loomis was selected by the Orioles.

"It speaks to the athleticism of the quarterbacks we have at Nevada," football coach Chris Ault said. "Those baseball guys will be able to watch our guys play football on ESPN."

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