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Ex-PSU star trains to stay in the game

Juston Wood might be temporarily out of football, but he's not done with the sport.

'Currently, I'm unemployed,' Wood says during a workout at the Hoop in Beaverton. 'But there are opportunities. I'm just waiting for a phone call.'

The former standout quarterback at David Douglas High and Portland State is prepping to play in any of three leagues: the Arena Football League, which began training camps this week; NFL Europe, set to begin training in March; or even the Canadian Football League, which begins training in May.

'It's an interesting time right now,' Wood says. 'I've had interest from NFL teams all season, but they're not going to sign someone like me without experience. And you can't get the experience if you're not playing. It's a little frustrating, but that's the business.

'Until I get a call, I'm just working out, taking care of myself.'

Wood, 24, threw for 5,411 yards and 36 touchdowns during the 2001 and '02 seasons at Portland State. He was strong enough to rate getting picked up as a free agent by the Minnesota Vikings last summer. In preseason, he got into one game at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

'That's something a lot of people would give anything for, playing at Arrowhead Stadium in front of thousands of people,' he says. 'That was pretty neat.'

As he tries to climb back into the NFL picture, Wood's daily workouts include speed and quickness drills, working on getting rid of passes effectively and improving his foot speed.

'The toughest thing that I'm dealing with is not having a team to practice with,' he says. 'You get used to that, and that's a great part of football. I miss that a lot.

'But staying on top of your skills even though you don't have a team Ñ that's part of this business. And I'm going to give this, trying to get into the league, a couple more years before I pack it in.'