Woods quietly posting impressive career at WVU
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 00:12
It’s no secret West Virginia’s receiving corps features the most productive combination of receivers in the entire country in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
But the duo’s rampant success has actually somewhat overshadowed the growth and achievements of the Mountaineers’ third-most productive receiver this season.
Redshirt senior J.D. Woods’ numbers – 56 catches for 596 yards and four touchdowns – won’t necessarily jump off the page at you. But anyone that’s watched the Naples, Fla. native this season and throughout his career can confirm that Woods has developed into a very solid and reliable player.
West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, for example, recently remarked in an interview for WVUSports.com’s "Wearing the Jersey" that Woods, who has always been immensely talented, has just been a completely different player this season in regard to both his production and just his overall personality.
It wasn’t easy for Woods to get where he is today, though. After a decent sophomore season where he reigned in 18 catches for 205 yards and a touchdown in four starts, Woods sat out the first 11 games of the Dana Holgorsen era in 2011.
It could have been so easy for Woods to accept defeat at that point and leave the team like we’ve seen some other WVU receivers do this season, but the then-redshirt junior persevered, and in Week 12 of 2011, Woods earned a start against the University of South Florida in a game that was an absolute must-win for the Mountaineers, in order to keep their dreams of a potential Big East championship and a possible BCS-berth alive.
Woods’ responded with season-highs of four catches for 38 yards, and West Virginia did indeed go on to claim a share of the 2011 Big East title and eventually advance to what became known as one of the most historic Discover Orange Bowl in the game’s history – a game in which Woods also had a 15-yard reception.
Woods’ minor successes at the end of 2011 only encouraged him to work harder this offseason, in order to become a bigger part of the offense this year.
Because Woods, although the third most productive receiver on the team this year, has made his share of awe-inspiring plays this season, including an absolutely jaw-dropping one-handed catch in the closing moments of WVU’s
first-ever Big 12 Conference game against Baylor. The grab ultimately preserved the game and the Mountaineers’ perfect season at the time, according to Geno Smith.
Smith admitted afterward it was one of the worst throws of his life, and Woods essentially bailed him out along with the rest of the team, because if Woods hadn’t been able to somehow reel in the errant pass from Smith, it could have been picked off and returned for a touchdown.
The remarkable play also had his coaches chirping after the game, which ended 70-63, with the Mountaineers still standing.
"The catch that he made at the end was phenomenal," Dawson said after the Baylor game. "I thought that was probably his best performance yet. His energy level, his attitude and everything about that kid right now is unbelievable."
Another unbelievable scene came Saturday, as Woods, who committed to West Virginia after his first-ever trip to the school, joined his fellow Mountaineers’ seniors in a celebration he said he would cherish forever, after WVU’s 59-10 rout of Kansas.
"It’s a very memorable moment," Woods said after his last game at Mountaineer Field Saturday. "It’s always good when you can execute and celebrate about it.
"I probably won’t ever forget this moment."
Woods, who began his career with a touchdown against Coastal Carolina in September of 2010, fittingly found the end zone again in his career finale at home Saturday afternoon.
Was that of any significance to Woods, though?
"It makes me want to get another touchdown in this bowl game. It’s just all motivation," he said.