Alumni corner: Kaiser aiming to win QB job with Colorado Mesa

With a powerful arm and deceptive speed, Aric Kaiser gave Broomfield football fans a lot to cheer about.

The quarterback’s fiery play in 2010 was a key in the Eagles pushing the deepest they had gone into the playoffs in nearly a decade. And while he is still in the process of winning a position at the college level, Kaiser could very well be wowing crowds again in Colorado.

The signal caller transferred to Colorado Mesa University in January. And with a solid spring under his belt, Kaiser believes he made plenty of headway earning his spot under center this fall.

“It was a four-way race coming out of spring ball, but I felt like I came out on top,” Kaiser said. “I just have to use this summer to take care of the little things to make sure I have the edge when I report at the end of summer.”

Fighting it out for a starting job on a new team is far from what Kaiser anticipated at this point in his career. The way he had it pegged a year ago this time was he would be honing his skills in his second year at the helm of the University of Nebraska-Kearney’s offense. But like so many plans, those went astray. The root of the change was the first major injury of Kaiser’s playing career.

Three games in to his first year starting, Kaiser sustained stage-three shoulder separation on his throwing arm. But that was only the first blow he took in the season. The season-ending injury stung, but it was the year-end coaches meeting that left Kaiser dazed.

“They wanted to move me to receiver,” said Kaiser, who finished 2012 with 426 passing yards and four touchdowns. “I felt I had done well at quarterback those three games, but the wanted someone faster for the run game.”

While UNK might not have recognized Kaiser’s potential as signal caller, Mesa’s coaches did.

Mavericks head coach Russ Martin has had a long relationship with not only with Aric Kaiser, but his older brother Kyle. As offensive coordinator at Kearney, Martin helped the elder Kaiser become one of the top receivers in the country and a Harlon Hill Trophy nominee.

The coach was more than enthusiastic to continue to tap into the Kaiser lineage, recruiting Aric to Kearney before departing for the Mesa job. Martin once again welcomed the quarterback with open arms when he was searching for a new college. The coach’s belief in the younger Kaiser’s ability panned out almost immediately when the quarterback jumped into the rotation during spring ball.

“He fit right into our system when he joined us,” Martin said. “He understood the offense, because Kearney has a number of the same facets in their system.”

Familiarity to the schemes, routes, and run game might have made for Kaiser’s seamless entry into the Mavericks’ offense, but they are not the quarterback’s only selling points. Martin has continued to be impressed with the signal caller’s arm strength and accuracy. And while the Lopers might not have liked the times Kaiser clocked, the Mesa coach is certain he can hurt defenses with his feet.

Kaiser has other upsides, such as his eligibility. Given the quarterback has taken two red shirts — his second coming due to last season’s injury — and that he has been released by Kearney, Kaiser is free and clear to play a full four seasons.

Even with a ton of upside, Martin is far from conceding the job is Kaiser’s. The coach admits he is definitely vying for the job, but the race for the position is tight and won’t be decided until much closer to Mesa’s Sept. 7 kickoff.

“The big thing — this goes for all the guys competing for the starting job — is leadership,” he said. “We’re looking for somebody to come in this fall and be our field general, a guy the rest of the team can look to.”

Kaiser demonstrating leadership should be no problem, at least from Gary Davies’ perspective. The Broomfield coach notched it off as one of the quarterback’s key facets, along with competitiveness. Those traits, Davies points out, also came out when they mattered most to the Eagles in Kaiser’s final year of play — one instance being the team’s loss to Valor Christian in the 2010 state semifinals.

“He kept us in the game,” Davies said. “He threw the ball well that day and had one long scramble for a touchdown, but it was how he competed that did the most to help us hang in there.”

The pieces appear to be ready to fall into place for Kaiser, who is using the summer to get strength back to where it was before the injury. And while it is no sure bet he will be under center this fall, the quarterback is buoyed by the shot to show he was meant to play quarterback.

“I’m excited and motivated,” he said. “I didn’t get to show my whole ability at UNK, but I know I can here.”

Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton