- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Redshirt freshman quarterback Shane Dillon is leaving Colorado because he wants to play college basketball, the school announced Tuesday.
Dillon, who was coming back from shoulder surgery, struggled during spring practices, when Connor Wood seemed to take the lead in the Buffaloes' quarterback competition. In the four main spring scrimmages, he completed 19-of-39 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns (one interception), and rushed for 26 yards on 10 attempts.
But Dillon, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, said this isn't about football but about his favorite sport being basketball.
“I’ve grown up playing basketball my entire life, I’ve always been a basketball kid and have played since I was 4 years old,” said Dillon in a statement released by the school. “I was a late bloomer in football and never started playing quarterback until halfway through my sophomore year.
“I always kind of felt my decision that I had to play football was forced upon me a little bit,” he added. “People told me I had to make a decision by the end of my junior year between football and basketball because quarterbacks all seemed to commit pretty early. Basketball has always been my passion, and even though I really enjoyed my year here, I felt the time is now for me to make the change.”
Dillon's departure is another blow at the position for the Buffs. Jordan Webb, the 2012 starter, blew out his knee during spring practices. Nick Hirschman opted to transfer to Akron. It's possible incoming freshman Sefo Liufau will be Wood's backup.
Dillon averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds as a senior, and 25 and 12, respectively, as a junior, at Christian High School in El Cajon, Calif., and was recruited by several schools for basketball.
“We hate to see Shane go, he’s truly a phenomenal young man, but we understand what he wants to pursue,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “I felt like he definitely had a future in football, but as Shane and I discussed, it was going to take hard work to succeed in football, and it’s also the same for basketball. Instead of throwing passes for three hours in practice, he’ll be shooting baskets."
According to the news release, Dillon spoke with basketball coach Tad Boyle about the possibility of joining the CU men’s team, but all scholarships in 2013-14 are spoken for, so he would have had to be a walk-on and then try to earn a scholarship a year from now. Said Dillon, “That’s something my family really can’t afford right now, or I would definitely have considered that option.”