Steamboat Springs Had Alex Wood’s three previous seasons with the University of Colorado football team not proven his desire for the sport, Monday afternoon in Boulder was affirmation of his dedication.
Wood, a 2009 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, left for the Flatirons four years ago as a preferred walk-on.
After switching from tight end to fullback, enduring a coaching change and almost giving up playing, Wood was awarded with a scholarship Monday, after the first day of fall football camp.
“I almost started crying,” Wood said Tuesday. “It was embarrassing.”
After a storied high school career, Wood had an immense desire to play Division I football.
He was a redshirt his first year and was buried on the tight end depth chart.
He didn’t travel with the team to the Colorado State University rivalry game and thought his time playing might be done.
But with a new coaching staff in tow with head coach Jon Embree and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — and a move to a power running game — Wood switched to fullback last season.
He opened spring football atop the depth chart.
"Alex has done a tremendous job for us, everything we have asked of him and more,” Embree said. “He's worked hard on and off the field, takes care of business in the classroom and gives us everything he's got. He plays a position that we ask a lot from, and he's responded by improving and contributing to the team that made him worthy of earning a scholarship. It's a pleasure to reward someone like Alex for that kind of hard work and dedication."
Wood, now a redshirt junior, knows his job isn’t done. Colorado has two true freshmen fullbacks battling for time in camp. Wood said he will play fullback and serve as an H-back, as well.
After he found out he got the scholarship, he immediately called his parents — who initially didn’t believe him — and then former Steamboat basketball coach Kelly Meek.
“It was a sigh of relief and then pure excitement,” Wood said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about all the coaches and my parents. There were moments that I wanted to give up. This moment makes everything worth it. I never had a feeling like that before. It was pretty amazing.”
The scholarship offer comes at a good time for Wood. He said he had about $3,000 left in his college tuition fund and, without the scholarship, would have had to take out student loans later this year.
For Wood, the journey hasn’t always been pretty, but it was worth it. He said he wants to remain the starting fullback and get Colorado back to a bowl game this season.
“Football has always been my passion,” he said. “It has been hard. It is really hard when you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I stayed dedicated to what I love. I just kept reminding myself in the future there is a light at the end of that tunnel.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com