David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer
One enjoyable visit to Colorado Christian was enough to make Chris Helbig believe that’s where he belonged for the next four years of his life.
Yet, it was a lifetime of dreams that eventually pulled him in another direction.
Over the weekend, the Holy Family High School senior announced that instead of playing basketball at Colorado Christian, he will attempt to make it as a football player at Colorado.
“I guess that’s what my heart wanted the whole time,” said Helbig, who is planning to join the Buffaloes as a walk-on quarterback this fall. “Ever since I was a little kid, CU has been the place I wanted to have a chance to play at, and I got that opportunity and I just couldn’t pass it up.”
Originally he did. Late last month, Helbig said he really connected with the players and coaches on the Colorado Christian basketball team and announced on Twitter he’d be playing hoops at the Lakewood-based school.
He continued to have conversations with CU football coaches, though, and the thought of giving up football began to hurt.
“It kind of hit me and I knew that wasn’t really what I wanted to do,” he said.
One of the top quarterbacks in Colorado, Helbig set a state record with 607 passing yards in Holy Family’s season opener. He was on pace to break the state’s single-season passing record before tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee on Oct. 30.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Helbig said he expects to be 100 percent healthy by June. He wound up with 3,517 yards and 39 touchdowns this past season, and 6,634 yards, 72 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions in his career. He played quarterback his last two years with the Tigers.
Helbig realizes that as a walk-on, he has a big mountain to climb if he wants to play, but he said he’s ready to start climbing.
“I’ve been used to walking into a club or school and having a position and being one of the best kids out there,” he said. “Now going in and starting at the bottom, I know I’m going to have to work that much harder and hopefully earn a scholarship down the road.”
Helbig will be joining a crowded quarterback room, but said he’s not afraid of competition. He’s also not opposed to shifting positions. He has also played receiver and defensive back during his high school career.
“If quarterback doesn’t work out for me, I have no problem playing any other position,” he said. “I just want a chance to get on the field.
“I haven’t really talked to (CU coaches) about playing other positions, but I know it’s something that they’ll let me do. If there’s an opportunity at another position to get on the field sooner, then I’ll definitely take that.”
For now, Helbig will go in as a quarterback, and he’s eager to get on the field with the Buffs.
“It comes down to how hard you work,” he said. “I just want to prove that I deserve a spot on the team and that hard work is going to pay off.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.