QB Craig Ochs To Sit Out The Rest Of Season

In a statement announced through the CU media relations department, QB Craig Ochs decides to apply for a medical waiver red-shirt and withdraw as a student at CU. Ochs also has decided to relinquish his scholarship at the University of Colorado and re-evaluate his football career. It is not known if Ochs will ever play football again.

BOULDER - Plagued by a history of concussions, University of Colorado quarterback Craig Ochs announced Monday that he is withdrawing from school for the remainder of the fall semester to further evaluate the options of his football future.

In a statement Ochs prepared for the media, issued through CU's athletic media relations office, Ochs wrote:

"On Saturday, September 7, during the CU-San Diego State football game, I suffered a closed head injury. Over the last two weeks, I have undergone extensive medical testing, evaluations and referrals by a multitude of different specialists in order to accurately diagnose the nature and extent of my football injury.

I am pleased and relieved to tell you today that all diagnostic studies have been entirely normal. Nevertheless, in my present situation, a period of football non-contact has been advised by experts in the field as the safest and most conservative medical course of treatment.

After a very deliberate and searching review of all the attendant circumstances, with both my family and close friends, I have come to a very painful but compelling decision as to my immediate future.

I have now decided upon the following course of action: (1) to apply for a medical waiver red-shirt for the 2002 football season, (2) to withdraw as a student from the University if Colorado, (3) to relinquish my athletic scholarship at the University of Colorado, and (4) to re-evaluate my options for returning to play football next season.

I would like to thank many here at CU for their friendship, support and encouragement, especially the Buff fans and my teammates. I am deeply honored to have been a member of this team. I wish my teammates every success in the future both on and off the playing field."

Colorado head coach Gary Barnett held a press briefing Monday afternoon to comment on the immediate decision of Ochs.

"We totally respect Craig and his family's decision, it was a family decision all the way. We just want the best for Craig no matter what," Barnett said. "I was very surprised."

Barnett learned of Ochs' decision earlier in the day, when the junior history major came by his office with his father, Steven. "This whole thing has been really hard on him. I just know how much of a competitor he is and how he really wants to play. Right now, he just needs to get away and figure everything out."

Ochs, who suffered his most recent concussion in CU's second game this season, sustained two concussions last year, forcing him to miss one start.

Though it is not exactly clear, the Colorado medical staff believes the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has had a total of four concussions, that number including his high school career.

"The bottom line is that we want what is best for him and his future and his health," offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said. "That is the most important thing."

Barnett also agreed saying: "This is one of those things that as a coach and as a school, you sort of have to stay out of it. I don't know if Craig's career is over. I don't think anybody knows. But it is (over) for this year. Right now, we want the best for Craig."

Ochs, who was elected as a team captain for 2002, has started in 16 games since beginning freshman year. This season he has passed for 327 yards and two touchdowns, completing 21-of-42 tries with two interceptions. For his career, he has completed 265-of-453 attempts, gaining 3,325 yards, 16 scores with just 13 interceptions. In just two-plus seasons, he was already in the top eight all-time in five different statistical categories.

With CU in the midst of a bye week, most coaches were out of town recruiting and the majority of players were not around for comment during the afternoon. However, those who heard Ochs' decision were very shocked.

"I don't know if any of us anticipated this happening," offensive guard and fellow captain Wayne Lucier stated. "I have always been a Craig Ochs fan. He's a great player and we are going to miss him.

"As a player, we never really knew what was going to happen," Lucier added. "This is an unfortunate situation, but we have to move on from here."

With two games under his belt this year in Ochs' absence, Robert Hodge permanently steps in at the offense's helm. Backing up Hodge is fellow senior Zac Colvin, however, Barnett said that Ochs' departure "throws the whole thing open right now." This could mean freshman walk-on Joel Klatt, who stands at No. 3 on the depth chart, could push for the backup job along with freshman James Cox.

"When you loose your quarterback and a captain, it has a little more potential for impact," Barnett said. "Right now, it is Shawn's (Watson) mission to get the No. 2 guy ready. whoever that is."

Ochs unexpected statement came on the same date that is a sad one in CU history, as it was Sept. 23, 1999 when quarterback Sal Aunese passed away due to complications due to stomach cancer. Aunese was one of several CU quarterbacks Ochs emulated growing up as a hometown football star in Boulder.

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