Woodson Greer is starting to emerge as a valuable player for the Colorado defense this season.

A part-time player during the first two years of his career, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior linebacker was on the field for a career-high 56 plays against Charleston Southern last Saturday. Known for his speed and hard hits, he recorded a career-high eight tackles in CU's 43-10 win, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

"He's got great speed," CU defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. "He can cover the field and he's pretty tough. He deserves to get a little bit more playing time as we move on and he has, and he will as long as he continues to do those things. He's very talented."

Greer's talent is why former CU coach Jon Embree brought him to Boulder. During the past two years, however, Greer had a tough time seeing the field. He was in on 40 snaps over the course of three games as a freshman in 2011 and 69 snaps over the course of six games in 2012. Including special teams, he was on the field for 14 of CU's games during those two seasons.

Since the spring, however, Greer has been a new player. He received the Greg Biekert Award in the spring - an award given to the most improved linebacker at the end of spring practices.

He began the season as a backup at outside linebacker, but got an opportunity with senior captain Paul Vigo injured. Vigo has since returned, but Greer quickly passed him on the depth chart.

Early in the season, though, Greer was the odd man out when CU went with just two linebackers - and that was often. Against Oregon on Oct. 5, Addison Gillam (86 plays) and Derrick Webb (83) were both on the field for the majority of the game at linebacker, while Greer was in for just 14 plays.

Two weeks later, against Charleston Southern, Greer's 56 snaps actually were the most among CU linebackers. Gillam played 53 plays and Webb just 25.

Greer continues to get more playing time because he's been productive when on the field. He has 26 tackles, two tackles for loss and three quarterback pressures during his limited time on the field. The way he's playing, his time won't be so limited going forward.

More importantly, Baer said, Greer is shining in the classroom, too.

"I'm proud of Woodson because he had some academic stuff that he's really taken care of and become a pretty good student," Baer said. "It's real important to him."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.