Oh, the winding roads we must travel. Especially when the “we” is a quarterback.
Northern Colorado’s Kyle Sloter is one of the best FCS stories of this year’s NFL Draft class. A year ago, he was squaring away his future career in the world of finance and resigned to knowing he’d given college football his best shot.
Today, he is one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects heading into this month’s NFL Draft – a story of how if you just hang in there, at some point you’ll get your shot and you must be ready to make the best of it.
Sloter originally committed to Tulane in Oct. 2011, but Southern Miss wooed him away by national signing day in 2012. He redshirted with the Golden Eagles and then was asked to switch to wide receiver because of his athleticism.
After a redshirt year in 2012 and two seasons at receiver — with a combined stat line of 7 receptions, 13 games and 2 starts — Sloter decided to move on from Southern Miss and landed at Northern Colorado. In 2015, he threw his first college pass for UNC, and it would be the only one of the year. He mostly dabbled with special teams play and caught some passes, even ran the ball – but he rarely lined up under center.
The writing was on the wall. He’d given it his all and also set up a nice post-football career back home in the Atlanta, Ga. area. But he’d stick it out for his final season. There’s no way Sloter was a quitter.
“It’s been an uphill battle,” Sloter told HERO Sports. “There was never a time to just take a breath. Most everything has been stacked against me. The schools have always supported me, it’s just been more the uncontrollable stuff. That’s really what set me back.”
Opening game starter Jacob Knipp went down to injury in game two of 2016, and Sloter would get his shot to be a starting quarterback. He didn’t disappoint, setting a new school record for single-season passing yardage with the Bears being in Division I (2,665 yards, 29 TDs). He threw for 328 yards and 2 scores against FBS Colorado State and helped orchestrate the program’s first ever win over Montana and nearly got the program into the FCS playoffs.
And that got him a shot to be noticed by scouts too, and his Pro Day in March turned some heads. On a day of bad weather and wind, Sloter turned in a 4.77-second 40-yard dash time running in tennis shoes in a basketball gym, as opposed to a faster surface outside. His times have been in the high 4.5s in the past. He also measured in at 6-foot-5, 211 pounds – a prototypical NFL size for signal caller. He can scoot, and he can toss the ball around – as evidenced by his spring workouts throwing against the Colorado wind. NFL teams took notice.
Along with the UNC Pro Day, he was also invited to the Colorado workout – and it also went well.
In a year where the quarterback class isn’t the deepest, there may be some fireworks for Sloter during the NFL Draft. He talked to 15 scouts after his Pro Day, and Buffalo, Washington, Arizona, Green Bay, San Francisco and his hometown Atlanta Falcons have all stayed in touch. In fact, he got a second shot to impress the Falcons in the past week.
“There were a lot of them who had heard of me and a lot who hadn’t, so it was a bit of a coming out party,” Sloter said.
At least three teams have told him directly that he’s a top five quarterback in their book, and if the situation is right they will seriously consider drafting him. The day three portion of the NFL Draft can be treacherous, but also can be life changing. The picks come in rapid fire style, and every team keeps its poker face on until the last second – and surprises often come.
Sloter could easily be one of those surprises.
“Honestly, I’ve always been really confident in my abilities,” Sloter said. “I always thought if I ever got an opportunity to play meaningful minutes, it would go well. It just came down to getting that opportunity. I’ve never missed a meeting in my entire college career, and I’ve always been one of the leaders on the team. I’ve always wanted to be one of those guys to push forward, even when things haven’t been in my favor.
“I’ve stuck with it and I think I’m being repaid right now when a lot of people would have given up.”
As it stands? His career in finance can wait.