QB defects to Michigan for chance at Rose Bowl

Todd Zolecki

Jim Wacker envisioned the future when he saw Eden Prairie quarterback Jason Kapsner.
The Minnesota football coach thought Kapsner would be the next Cory Sauter. Kapsner, regarded as one of the nation’s top prep quarterbacks last year, would be the perfect athlete to lead the Gophers’ offense into the next century.
Many schools saw the same future for Kapsner. Texas, Arizona, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan all thought Kapsner could be their next great quarterback.
And with all that competition, Minnesota fell behind and never ranked among Kapsner’s top schools when it came to decision time.
Kapsner, to the dismay of Minnesota, chose to attend Big Ten rival Michigan, who the Gophers play Saturday at the Metrodome.
“He’s going to be a great quarterback for us,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.
The Gophers lost a great one. He was named honorable mention All-American by USA Today and the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the nation by National Recruiting Advisor.
The Wolverines freshman said he didn’t base his choice on what Minnesota didn’t have but what Michigan did have. But Kapsner, though trying not to step on anyone’s toes, couldn’t help but shed some truth on the subject.
“It’s an amazing program,” he said. “I suppose if you compare it to Minnesota, it’s a little better program. Michigan Stadium is an amazing place to play. There’s such amazing fan support around here. And you have a shot at the Rose Bowl every year. That’s really something you can’t ask for at most schools around the country.”
Ironically, Kapsner is playing the role of Sauter this week in practice. As a member of the demonstration team, he prepares the Wolverines defense for the Gophers’ offense.
“I hope I can live up to him this week,” he said. “Those are tough shoes to fill.”
Right now Kapsner said he doesn’t even consider himself on the Wolverines’ depth chart at quarterback. Michigan starts sophomore Scott Dreisbach with junior Brian Griese as his backup. Redshirt freshman Tom Brady, redshirt freshman DiAllo Johnson and junior Scot Loeffler are also in front of Kapsner.
Talent is everywhere at Michigan, on its current roster and in the record books.
“There are some great athletes here,” he said. “It’s a whole different ball game than high school.
“Usually I’m used to being one of the bigger, taller guys (Kapsner is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds). Coming here, I’m just run of the mill. These guys are All-Americans. It’s kind of intimidating at first.”
He doesn’t regret the decision to sign with Michigan. But he does miss his home state and admits he is a little homesick.
Kapsner will travel with the team this weekend and will be in uniform. He said about 30 family members and friends will be at the game.
“It’ll be kind of tough being five minutes from my house and not being able to go home,” he said.
It’s awkward for Kapsner. Wearing the maize and blue is like a dream for him, but going home and competing against a team he’s cheered for his entire life brings about mixed feelings.
He wouldn’t change it. He’s in love with the Michigan program.
“At first I heard about the players here and what good people they are,” he said. “I’m kind of like, `Yeah, you can say that, but if you want a great program you’re going to have to compromise a little bit with that.’ But I came here and they really do look at character.”