Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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When Alex Wood was an awkward sophomore, his playmaking abilities weren't yet apparent.
He didn't look the part.
He was slow, a little chunky and didn't necessarily have the lateral movement that screamed "highlight reel material."
But he had those feet. They looked like they belonged on a player inches shorter and pounds lighter. Looking at them, you knew there was the possibility Wood could become that playmaker.
So, the summer after his sophomore year, the guy former Steamboat boys basketball coach Kelly Meek called "doughboy" returned for his junior year looking different.
Meek couldn't call him doughboy anymore.
Wood had transformed himself from a boy to a man-child.
He wasn't chunky, and that lateral movement started to show.
He still had the nimble feet, and that season, he led the Sailors in receptions, provided toughness on the basketball court and was the best pitcher on the baseball team.
So, what should we expect from Wood's junior and senior years? Judging by Friday's performance in Laramie, Wyo., Alex Wood is in no way awkward, slow or chunky.
He's a chiseled 220 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.5- to 4.6-second range and has become one of the best-kept secrets in the Western Slope League.
Wood dominated on defense - see his two consecutive sacks to end Friday's game - and was equally impressive on offense. He had four catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
He wasn't just Steamboat's best player - he was far and away the best player on the field.
But what's been the biggest difference between his sophomore year and now? You've probably heard the answer before: Wood didn't accept being just good. He went out, worked hard and wanted to become great.
When he was called "doughboy," he rolled with it, used that summer to do 500 crunches a day, and he came back better.
He spent much of the next year putting up a mortgage in the weight room. After basketball and baseball practice, it wasn't hard to find Wood. He was in the weight room lifting or out working on his speed.
Wood wants to play college football. Although he's just one game into his senior season, on Friday, he looked every bit the part of a football player destined for Saturday afternoons.
Not bad, for a once-awkward sophomore now destined to fill highlight reels.