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Time Running Out For Buffs QB Connor Wood

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Colorado junior Connor Wood, left, is listed atop the Buffs' depth chart heading into the fall. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.
Colorado junior Connor Wood, left, is listed atop the Buffs' depth chart heading into the fall. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images.

It’s now or never for Connor Wood.

A star at the high school level, time for the Colorado junior to make any kind of statement in the college ranks is running out — fast.

That would’ve been hard for most to believe four years ago, when Wood was being recruited out of Houston’s Second Baptist High by the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Tabbed by recruiting service Rivals.com as the country’s third-best pro-style quarterback, Wood received 11 Division-I offers before pledging Feb. 18, 2009, to play for Texas the following season.

The stage was set for a great story. Wood, known all over the Lone Star State and beyond, would take his talents to nearby Austin and shine for Mack Brown’s Longhorns, winners of the national title three years prior. But a much different story quickly began to unfold. After redshirting in 2010 and getting beat out by Case McCoy and Garrett Gilbert for Texas’ starting duties under center in 2011, Wood decided to transfer to Colorado.

He was listed atop CU’s depth chart at the end of spring drills last season, but Buffs coaches — who are all gone now — ultimately decided to put the offense under Kansas transfer Jordan Webb’s control.

Wood did see some action, but it wasn’t much. He made one start, against Washington in a 35-point loss, and finished the season with 265 passing yards, four interceptions and one touchdown on 21-of-42 throwing — not exactly the numbers one would expect from the nation’s 113th-best prospect out of high school.

That was 2012. This is 2013. Has Wood learned enough, matured enough and improved enough to be the hands-down starter for the entire season?

“I keep improving and learning as a quarterback and how to lead this team,” Wood recently told reporters.

Spring practices concluded in mid-April, and Wood has once again been penciled in by coaches as the No. 1 quarterback. The starting job is his to lose, especially after incumbent starter Jordan Webb tore his ACL on April 19 and got himself arrested a month later. Nick Hirschman, who was reportedly in a dead heat with Wood for the starting job, made the peculiar decision to transfer to Akron.

“He’s our guy coming out of spring,” first-year CU coach Mike MacIntyre said of Wood.

But Wood knows he can’t rest easy as highly-touted newcomer Sefo Liufau, redshirt freshman Shane Dillon and junior-college transfer Jordan Gehrke are all lurking, ready to sprint onto the field if Wood slips up too many times.

If the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder does get shaky at the controls and can’t correct, he may be replaced for good by one of the Buffs’ up-and-coming stars.

Indeed, it’s now or never for Connor Wood.