Connor Wood: Quarterbacking 101

Connor Wood is a big part of the Longhorn's 2010 recruiting class. The 6-4, 203-pound signal caller received offers from around the country before committing to Texas on February 18 and on Wednesday at Second Baptist, Wood took the time to talk to Burnt Orange Beat about the quarterback position.

One would think that Connor Wood has played quarterback all of his life and has had a quarterback coach since a young age, but that is not the case. Actually, the 6-4, 203-pounder grew up playing basketball as a youngster and played AAU at a young age.

When it came time for football, the younger brother of Texas A&M senior walk on Jeff Wood III, didn't play quarterback, but was a running back instead. It wasn't until high school that the #55 prospect in the Scout 100 began his career as a quarterback.

Wood started his freshman season for the Eagles throwing for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. As expected with a very young signal caller playing varsity level competition, he completed less than 50% of his passes at 47%.

As a sophomore his completion percentage jumped nearly seven points and his numbers nearly doubled throwing for 2,210 yards and 24 touchdowns (eight interceptions) as well as using his fast twitch ability to rush for almost 400 yards.

Wood again made big gains from year to year in 2008 completing 63% of his passes, including 20 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He totaled 2,248 yards through the air and over 400 on the ground, including 17 rushing touchdowns highlighted by a scoring run of more than 70 yards against the Sealy Tigers.

Second Baptist head coach Mike Sneed, who coached Grapevine to a pair of 4A D-I state titles in 1996 and 1998, has seen and coached his fair share of talented throwers of the football and easily rates Wood as the best, but just as impressive as a person.

"On the person part, he's the kind of guy you would like to have marry your daughter if you have a daughter," Sneed said. "He's the type of person you would invite into your home to meet your family. He's top of the line. He's understanding and caring of what other guys do on the field. He's got that knack of rallying kids whether they are older or younger than he is. He has that ability to relate to guys."

Sneed went on to add, "As a coach, I've been a part of a couple of state championships, had good quarterbacks in the throwing game and I've seen a lot and he is the best quarterback I've ever been around. He can run it, throw it and he can even kick it. He could punt on the college level. He's one of those guys that are multi-talented. I know that he took it as a challenge to go to Austin and play. Honestly, I thought he was going to go to Oklahoma. I felt that's where he was leaning because of how things were stacking up at the quarterback position. I was a little surprised, but certainly not disappointed. I'm glad he stayed in state."

After speaking with Coach Sneed, Wood sat down with Burnt Orange Beat to talk about the quarterback position and the time and work that goes into enjoying a high level of success.

Q: What do you first remember learning about playing quarterback?

A: I don't necessarily remember the first thing because I started playing quarterback in middle school. I played running back mostly. The problem for me was my hands were so big and the ball was tiny, so I wasn't accurate. I was awful. I was awkward back then. When I got to high school, got the big ball and wasn't as awkward, I began playing quarterback full time.

My brother, who started here (Second Baptist) for two or three years, helped me out and especially by going to A&M and getting that knowledge. He would help me break down film helping me with cover three, cover two, cover one, blitzes and techniques.

Q: How much do you work on footwork? Is it specific to football or just training the body?

A: I've got a guy who I work with that is a personal trainer that works out Lance Berkman. He's been working me out since last summer. He really jump-started me as far as my footwork. It was a big deal for me always, but we really worked on it in the summer. I can definitely tell the results on how much it helped me during my junior season as far as moving in the pocket.

It's both training and football specific. Towards the end of the workouts, we work on football related movements such as drops. We work on that part in July and late summer getting ready for the season. Right now, through the next few months, we work on regular training stuff.

Q: What is the most important aspect of playing quarterback?

A: I think it's leadership. When I started when I was a freshman here, I learned that the quarterback had to be the leader. He's the triggerman. I've learned that those guys around you look up to you.

Q: When you break the huddle and walk to the line of scrimmage, what are you thinking and looking for pre-snap?

A: We break the huddle, my offensive coordinator has taught me to basically just stand and look over the defense first. I look at the coverage they are in. Where are the safeties? How are the corners positioned? I look at the slot receiver and that coverage to check out the hot call.

Q: How much time do you put in on video?

A: I say about four days a week, we don't watch film on Friday's, I watch film during lunch. We watch film after practices and previous games. I still have our game plan from our last playoff game in my homework folder and still look at that. I look through all of the plays and go through mental reps. I don't know how many hours a week.

Q: What aspects of the position do you need to improve headed into your senior season and preparing for the next level?

A: There are all sorts of things to work on and not just one thing. If I could pick one thing, it would still be understanding where and what to do when pressure comes and things break down in your face. Sometimes I like to get out of the pocket before it actually breaks down. I need to actually step up when things are beginning to break down and keep my eyes down the field. I think that's the hardest thing to do when the big ‘ole dudes are closing in on you.

Q: Will the speed of the game be the toughest adjustment for you at Texas?

A: No doubt. About a week and a half after I committed to Texas, I went to one of the practices in the bubble. Watching the OL's moving the way they do. They are big and moving quick around you. You almost just watch them sometimes and don't keep your eyes on what is happening down the field. Everybody are just flyers out there at receiver and corner.

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