Barely recruited not once, but twice, quarterback Quinn Kaehler has been an unlikely leader taking the San Diego State Aztecs to another six-win season.
Kaehler started only one year at California High School in San Ramon, Calif., and drew a bit of interest from Division II schools, but had no FBS offers.
So, he enrolled at San Diego State in the summer of 2010 because of its finance program. But he wanted to play football and took part in an open tryout. The Aztecs said they had too many quarterbacks. Kaehler was disappointed and moved back home after the semester, enrolling at Diablo Valley College.
Kaehler threw for 1,241 yards as a freshman, then in 2012 went for 4,044 yards and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore at the Pleasant Hill, Calif., junior college.
Still, no FBS offers.
But Bob Toledo, San Diego State's new offensive coordinator, saw a fit in his West Coast offense for the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Kaehler, and he was given the chance to walk on.
"We thought bringing in a guy who was completing 70 percent of his passes was a good insurance policy if we could get him to walk on," San Diego State coach Rocky Long said in September.
Kaehler opened the season as the backup to Adam Dingwell, who helped guide the Aztecs to a 21-19 win at Boise State on Nov. 3, 2012. After losing 40-19 to Eastern Illinois, then struggling against Ohio State coupled with a bothersome back the next week, Dingwell was pulled in favor of Kaehler, who had 216 yards against the Buckeyes, earning the No. 1 job.
The Aztecs are 6-2 since Kaehler took over as starter, and he has completed 170-of-278 passes for 2,269 yards with 14 touchdowns to six interceptions this season.
"He has a great understanding of what were doing," Toledo told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Not all players are automatically ready to play FBS football. Part of Kaehler being overlooked was playing in the same conference as Boise State's Joe Southwick and Oregon State's Sean Mannion, and the other part can simply be traced to the fact Kaehler just may be a late bloomer.
"I really needed to go through some of the things I did to be here," Kaehler told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn