Another year, another Northwestern quarterback.
That’s the story in Evanston as the Wildcats will start their third different quarterback in three years when junior Dan Persa takes over under center this fall.
At 6-1, 210, Persa doesn’t exactly look like a scary Big Ten quarterback, but based on how the last two one-year starters worked out for Pat Fitzgerald, the conference might want to take notice of the new signal caller.
“I think C.J. (Bacher) and Mike (Kafka) both did a great job leading us to good records,” Persa said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days. “I learned a lot from both of them. Just the way they prepared and handled themselves on and off the season.”
No one is saying the Wildcats are going to send a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out there anytime soon, but the program is proving it has viable options at the one position that drives the spread offense.
“In the spread offense, if you have a good QB you are going to have a good offense,” Persa said. “If you have a not so good quarterback, your offense isn’t going to be that good. That’s pressure that I relish on.”
Persa will have big shoes to fill after Kafka threw for 3430 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. The junior quarterback saw some playing time in 2009, but only had 34 passing attempts, completing 20 of them for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Persa actually pressured Kafka for the starting job last season, but seniority ultimately won out.
“I think I knew Mike was ahead of me just because he was a senior and worked really hard. I was trying to push him as hard as I could and I thought I did a pretty good job but obviously he came out on top,” Kafka.
It’s a similar situation this season. Persa is the guy, but many consider redshirt freshman quarterback Evan Watkins to be the future. At 6-6, 235, Watkins has pro-size but a long way to go.
That doesn’t mean Persa isn’t looking behind him, though.
“I feel secure but at the same time I want him to push me to make me the best I can be and because he needs to be ready in case anything happens to me,” Persa said.