This spring, Trevor Woods feels a bit more like himself as he wears his No. 43 jersey on the practice field with the Colorado Buffaloes.
“It’s what I’ve worn my entire life,” the sophomore safety said. “My dad wore it, so it’s just what I wore when I was little.”
As a true freshman last year, Woods wore No. 42, but smiled when asked if No. 43 makes him more comfortable.
“Yeah it does,” he said. “I love it.”
While the new number might play a small role in Woods’ comfort, he’s carrying confidence into this spring because of what he did as a freshman last year.
As a backup, Woods played only 139 snaps on defense but recorded 23 tackles. He also had a key pass breakup in a win against Oregon State and made one of the biggest plays of the season for the Buffs, blocking a punt against Arizona, scooping up the ball and taking it in for a touchdown.
“It really gives you confidence,” he said of what last year did for him going into this spring. “It kind of lets you know that you can play at this level. It’s a different kind of level from coming from high school and just coming from a lower level like that. It just kind of establishes yourself.”
Woods displayed a knack for big plays when he starred at James E. Taylor High School in Texas, including multiple interceptions he returned for touchdowns.
Playing behind veterans Isaiah Lewis and Mark Perry last year, Woods was able to ease into the college game and made big plays when given the opportunity.
Now, he’s got a chance to win a starting job. Lewis is back for his senior year, but Perry has transferred to TCU, leaving competition wide open for a starting spot.
“I’m doing my best to try to propel myself to a starting role and try to be a leader of the team,” Woods said.
With Perry gone, Woods said there is a sense of urgency on his part to win the starting job.
“That’s one spot gone, so you kind of thrust yourself into the role a little bit, but I’m prepared for it,” he said. “This is what I came here to do and I’m ready for it.”
CU doesn’t have a lot of safety depth this spring. Lewis has been limited, leaving Woods and Tyrin Taylor, another true sophomore, as the experienced safeties. The only other scholarship safety this spring is Oakie Salave’a, an early enrollee true freshman who the Buffs had considered using at quarterback, but is now on defense.
Junior college transfer Jeremy Mack and true freshmen Dylan Dixson and Xavier Smith join the group in the summer.
Regardless of who is out there, Woods said this is a big spring for the group.
“We definitely need to step up,” he said. “We’ve got to be the quarterbacks of the defense we think. We’re trying to let everyone know where they’re at, too, and despite having less guys, we want to be the top group always.”
Woods is hoping to be one of the top guys on the defense and not just known for his big plays. Improving his man coverage has been a point of emphasis this offseason.
“I don’t want to be a liability at any point, so really this offseason I worked fully on man,” he said. “It’s kind of paying off. I’ve been doing pretty good at it so far since being back but that’s definitely the focal point of my offseason.”
Of course, he hopes to continue making big plays – something he’s done while wearing No. 42 and No. 43.
“When you’re not on offense you still want to be able to try and make an impact,” he said. “It’s something that kind of gets everybody going, it creates momentum a lot. Obviously, it’s something to really take pride in.”