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Early NFL interviews raise hopes of PSU quarterback

Juston Wood shrugs off so-so stats in East-West game

Juston Wood did not look good on TV, but what went on behind the scenes at the East-West Shrine Game helped him in his quest to play in the NFL.

Wood completed only 2 of 9 passes for 16 yards and fumbled once Saturday in San Francisco. But, as was the case with Joey Harrington last year, Wood held his own in practices leading up to the game.

'I interviewed with six teams over the course of the week,' says Wood, the Portland State quarterback who prepped at David

Douglas. 'They said, and my agent said, these all-star games won't hurt you, but they can help you. The game didn't necessarily help me, but it didn't hurt me, either.

'The game was fun, though. It was cool to be on the same field with people from the Pac-10 and all over, national champions. To hear my name and Portland State called was amazing.'

Wood then traveled to Mandeville, La., just outside of New Orleans, where he will train with other prospects for the NFL combine in Indianapolis in late February. He has signed with agent Kenny Zuckerman, whose company, Priority Sports, represents several NFL players, including former PSU receiver Terry Charles, St. Louis' Kurt Warner and Kevin Mawae of the New York Jets.

Wood is training with Curt Hester, a former Louisiana State and Florida State strength coach, and Nelson Stokley, a quarterback coach and father of the Baltimore Ravens' Brandon Stokley. A typical day: run from 8-10 a.m., QB drills from 10-11 a.m., weight lifting 1-3:30 p.m., more quarterback stuff, then back to the athletic club from 6:30 p.m. to 8.

'I'm down here trying to make something happen,' Wood says. 'It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance I don't want to let pass me by. If I wanted to waste my time, I'd go back to Portland.'

Wood had a subpar senior year, completing 54 percent of his passes for 2,211 yards, with 13 TDs and 14 interceptions. As a junior, he completed 60 percent for 3,200 yards, 23 TDs and only five interceptions.

One NFL scout said Wood was one of 'the most intriguing' players at the East-West Shrine Game. The 6-1, 205 Wood sees himself finding an NFL niche the way Drew Brees and Jeff Garcia have ÑÊas a smaller, mobile quarterback with a good arm.

'One of the scouts rated my arm a 7 or 8, and that's not bad at all. Above average,' Wood says. 'They like my intangible qualities, like my ability to move within the pocket. They tell me to continue to improve my footwork and get more fluid and rhythm on my throws.'