After his trip to Tempe last weekend, West Los Angeles College running back Jarrell Woods said that…
Introducing the 2007 Class: Jarrell Woods
The running back prepped at Novi High School in Northville, Mich. Michigan State was recruiting him in earnest during his junior year, and Woods admitted that he considered committing to them at the time. A leg injury derailed that recruiting prospect as well as many others. He decided together with his twin brother Josh to sign with the University of Utah, where he redshirted in 2005.
Ultimately, the experience at Utah wasn't a positive one for the running back. "The biggest thing I took away from that experience is knowing what coaching staff I like," commented Woods. "I don't necessarily fit into a scheme where the coaches are super authoritative. If you're a young man that isn't focused and needs a lot of guidance, that coaching style is perfect for you, but not for me. I did learn a lot from that coaching staff and they taught me how to play Division I football. But I was a mature young man, and that style didn't fit me. I do well with a coaching staff that gives you freedom to do what I need to do, and trust that I'll handle every situation the right way. That's the type of person I am – if something needs to be done, I'll put in the work so it gets done."
An unhappy Woods wasn't sure at the time what the future holds for him, and he certainly didn't know that he will ending up going the junior college route, specifically to West Los Angeles College. "After probably my worst ever practice, I called my mom and told her that I don't know if I'll ever play college football again," he recalled. "I had some other stuff going on in my life too so I was really down. I talked to my friend Matt Mason, who was also gonna leave Utah and asked him where he was going to transfer to and he said West L.A. I thought about going to Fullerton Junior College too. I had a relative that lives nearby West L.A., so because of that and my friend Matt I ended up going there."
He may have played just one season at West Los Angeles College, but Woods definitely made the most of it. He recorded 754 rushing yards, registering 11 rushing touchdowns and one touchdown reception, en route to first-team All-Western State Conference recognition. Bench pressing 425 pounds and squatting 605, as well has sporting a 39-inch vertical leap and running a 4.55 40-yard dash, Woods is the quintessence of a running back possessing an ideal balance of speed and power.
"People will look me up and down and say ‘yeah, he passes the eye test' but think that I just run over everybody," he noted. "But I definitely think that I'm able to get yards after contact. I don't just run over defenders. I might juke you, make a quick cut, outrun you…I think that I bring a lot of things to the table. I can catch the ball well out of the backfield, but I think I need to work on that more. I do a good job coming in and providing a different pace. I think I can score a touchdown every time I catch the ball. I don't want to settle for three yards, ten yards…every time I touch the ball I say to myself ‘this might be my last time running the ball', so why not go for the touchdown? I am a good decision maker. If I see that I have an opportunity to make a big play, I'm gonna go ahead and get it."
His solid campaign at West Los Angeles did catch the eye of ASU's Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber, while he was serving in same capacity at the University of Washington. The Huskies were going to extend a scholarship offer to Woods, but due to the high number of running backs signed on the team, had to drop Woods from its plans. Once Yarber was hired at ASU, the groundwork for Woods recruitment by the Sun Devils was laid down.
"Arizona State was the last school to come and offer me," said Woods. "I was back in Michigan when Coach Yarber called me at midnight and said ‘I know it's midnight, but I'm now at ASU and I'm offering you a scholarship (laughs).' I told coach I'm half asleep now and I'll call him tomorrow. So we talked and we set up the visit." As it turned out, ASU was Woods' first and only official trip, and naturally a very successful one.
"I really didn't know much about Arizona State," he remarked. "When I started getting recruited the Cal coaches came down and talked to me and I was all excited about that school. UCLA recruited me hard too…I really didn't have much knowledge about the Pac-10 but I know I was gonna get offers. It just didn't work out with all the other Pac-10 schools, and then it came down to ASU and its great environment. If you're gonna get to play, it almost doesn't matter where you go. I felt the ASU and the coaching staff was gonna give me an opportunity to play. They told me that I'm the only running back that they're gonna take." Woods committed just a day after his visit to Tempe.
While the running back isn't considered a mid-year transfer, he has done everything he can to make the transition to the Sun Devils as smooth as possible. Since January he has been living with ASU signal caller Rudy Carpenter, and has been taking classes online that will count towards his academic eligibility. "Living with Rudy has helped a lot," he remarked. "Rudy gives me a lot of junk about how I need to work on catching the ball (smile). But just to be able to talk to him about how the offense runs, what to do in different coverages…I feel that a running back should know as much as the quarterback about the offense, because it can only help your game and make you a better player. It's just unbelievable how much living with him has helped me get used to everything. I can't ask for a better situation. There's no way if I stayed home and worked out over there that it would help me more than being here."
Woods added that just a few days ago he finished taking online courses, but was told a few weeks back by the compliance department at ASU that he did qualify academically. Therefore he will enroll at ASU for the first summer session, while participating in off-season workouts.
Woods' confidence and enthusiasm don't overshadow his sense of reality. He's all too aware that he will have a monumental task trying to make a significant impact at running back in his first year donning the maroon and gold. "I would lie if I said I'm not shooting for the starting position," he said. "But at the same time, Ryan Torain rushed for 1,200 yards last season and he's a great back. Keegan Herring makes a lot of plays, and in my opinion Dimitri Nance has the best running form out of all the running backs. I'm just gonna out there and make plays, and leave it all on the field. I feel that if I play the way I can, I'm capable of getting the carries I deserve."
"I'm gonna make the best of every opportunity I get, because I learned that if you don't take advantage of the first opportunity you get, you may not get a second one. Actions speak louder than words, so I'm not gonna say that I'm gonna be the starter, be this or be that…I'm gonna play hard and let the coaches make the decision where I do stand in the depth chart."
And even if he got just one carry during his ASU career, he does have a special wish for that moment that involves the person he looks up to the most. "My number one goal is to have my grandfather watch me play at the Rose Bowl," said Woods. "If I can have my Papa sit on the 50-yard line at the Rose Bowl and watch me score a touchdown – that would be the highlight of my life."
High School/Community College
Novi High School (Northville, Mich.)\West Los Angeles College
Date of Birth
Los Angeles, Calif.
"Everybody called me ‘Twin' in high school, because I have an identical twin brother. In JC everybody called me ‘Baby Bush' because they said I looked like Reggie Bush, but they didn't say that I played like him (laughs)."
Favorite TV Show
"A nice steak"
"Barry Sanders and Ladainian Tomlinson"
Favorite Pro Team
Person you most admire
"My Papa, my grandfather, Joe Wilson. To me he embodies hard work; a nice humble man who didn't live a privileged life, but always took care of his kids and kids that weren't his family. He's always there for me and he's the true meaning of a man."
One Thing most people don't know about me
"I'm a humble, kind of shy guy."
Why did you choose ASU?
"The coaching staff."
Where do you want to be in ten years?
"Like every football player hopefully ending a nice career in the NFL. If I don't make it there I would like go to law school and become an agent. I enjoy going to the school and you always have to have education as a backup if you don't get to play football after college."
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