Fox recalls his time at Nevada with Kaepernick

semerson@macon.comFebruary 1, 2013 

ATHENS - Three former Georgia players are on the two rosters for the Super Bowl on Sunday - Baltimore's Dannell Ellerbe being the most prominent. But there's one other connection, though a tenuous one.

Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox was in the same job at Nevada from 2005-10. For most of the time, the quarterback at that school was Colin Kaepernick, who has helped lead the San Francisco 49ers into the big game. Fox and Kaepernick got to know each other while they were there.

"If we walked in the same room and saw he'd each other we'd speak, yeah," Fox said Friday, before adding: "I don't have him on speed dial."

Fox has long taken an interest in football: He is tight with Mark Richt at Georgia, and also took pointers from Bill Snyder at Kansas State, where Fox spent time as an assistant coach.

The other day Fox ran into Todd Gurley and kiddingly asked the Georgia freshman tailback to come to basketball practice to give his players some pointers.

"We had a guy that I thought should've taken a charge (against Auburn)," Fox said. "I saw a couple of those (football) guys at lunch and I told Gurley: 'You run over people for a living, you need to come over here and go practice the charge drill.'"

Kaepernick started most of four years at Nevada, finishing his career with 10,098 passing yards and 82 passing touchdowns. He went on to be a second-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, then supplanted Alex Smith as the starter this season.

Fox recalled the game at Nevada when Keapernick first came in, replacing the starter because of injury.

"He was either a freshman or a redshirt freshman, and you could tell he was kind of sped up, kind of spooked. And he was just scrambling, running wild," Fox said. "But then when he came into his own. And they played Boise (State) in a quadruple overtime game or something, and he was unbelievable. He's doing great, I'm really happy for him, he's a neat kid."

Fox isn't sure a mobile quarterback, such as Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III, will be able to have a long career in the NFL relying too much on his mobility. (Michael Vick, for example, though there were, ahem, other issues involved there.)

But Kaepernick has a strong arm, from what Fox remembered.

"He's got a powerful arm. He throws a 93 mph fastball, I think? And he was drafted in baseball. He can really throw it," Fox said. "I think when I was around him the question was does he have good touch on the ball, can he be a pocket passer. He never had to be (in college). I don't know if he is now, I haven't watched it that closely. But I'm really happy for him."

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