By: William Carroll
I truly am impressed with every aspect of John Woodard, he’s highly intelligent, a powerful and conscientious athlete with tremendous character. He has size, really good technique and when watch his tape he’s almost boring in how consistent and productive he is. He was clearly a player against whom teams game-planned, he had 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and a blocked kick. In 2014 he was just unstoppable with 18.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 2 blocked kicks and an interception. As a prospect he reminds me of Ray Edwards when he was drafted from Purdue or Victor Adeyanju when he was leaving Indiana.
Another truly compelling quality that Woodard possesses is a real capacity to b coached. He just kept getting better throughout his career. He was solid in all areas, against the run he was able to command his gap and make plays. Clearly he is most celebrated for what he could do to pressure the passer but he was also very good as a special teams player. As the base end playing on the left side of a defense he could spend a decade in the NFL.
- I have had the pleasure of watching your career from your time at Central Arkansas. What would you say are the 5 biggest and best lessons you’ve learned on your journey?
- When opportunity comes, seize it.
- You get back, what you put in.
- A team can’t succeed when players don’t buy in.
- You have to make sacrifices to be great.
- I am blessed to play this game. Don’t take any game, practice, workout or meeting for granted and embrace it.
- The next question, you played for Coaches Rector and Shuman; what was that program like and what kind of coach were they?
John Woodard: Brian Rector was my coach for my freshman and sophomore year, and Tom Shuman was my coach for junior and senior year. Coach Rector led our team to a state championship in 2005, and built a winning culture at Ravenwood. Tom Shuman continued to foster the C-C-C motto (Courage, Commitment, and Character) from Rector’s tenure that helped mold many classes of young men.
Who were your major rivals?
John Woodard: Our biggest rival was Brentwood high school.
4. Your home area is loaded with talent Jalen Ramsey and Golden Tate to name a few. who are some of the best players you played with or against while you were in high school or growing up?
John Woodard: Jeremiah Bryson and Sonny Gray from Smyrna high school, and Lucas Patrick from Brentwood High school.
5. What was your recruitment process like, who was interested and how did you choose your school?
John Woodard: I wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. I used NCSA, a recruiting service, to get my name out there. I was recruited by Cornell, Furman, Marist, Valparaiso, and Central Arkansas. In the end, UCA ended up being the best fit. When it came to teammates, coaching staff, and program, the decision was a no brainer.
- What was the best game and the biggest play you made as a high school player?
John Woodard: My biggest play was getting a strip-sack vs Page high school that was returned for a touchdown.
7. What was you big “Welcome to College Football” Moment?
John Woodard: Playing in my first college game vs. Ole Miss. The stadium was more intense and electric than anything I could have imagined. The cannons at Vaut-Hemingway only added to the atmosphere.
- What is your current height/weight and what are your testing numbers?
6’4 7/8” 271
3 Cone: 7.08
How have the systems and staffs at your school impacted your development?
John Woodard: I’ve been fortunate enough to play for two great coaching staffs that have produced strong, resilient teams. Throughout my career, I was able to play in 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, which has only added to my versatility as a defensive end.
- Which coaches have had the greatest impact on you and why?
John Woodard: It would definitely be my position coach, Dan Augustine. Through the coaching change, I was fortunate enough to keep the same position coach and I couldn’t have been more grateful. He taught me so much and helped build me into the player I have become.
11. How hard was to adjust to the verbiage, system and play-book and when did you feel 100% comfortable?
John Woodard: From the start, it was pretty tough because a lot of the terms and plays that I saw seemed like a foreign language to me. My redshirt year played a pivotal role in the development of my football knowledge. That year provided me with an opportunity to learn plays, schemes, techniques, and with ample time to utilize them.
- Who have been your favorite teammates, and why?
John Woodard: Derek Floyd (DE), DJ Holland (LB), and TJ Randall (DT). Derek and DJ had been my roommates for the vast majority of my time at UCA, so we built a strong bond on and off the field.TJ was our Nose who was a class above me. We both take pride in our work in the weight-room so we always worked out together in team workouts and in free time. Derek, TJ and I played together on the D-line aka “The Zoo” and that was always a fun group of guys to play with.
- Who have been your favorite opponents and why?
John Woodard: McNeese State and Sam Houston St. They both always been our toughest Conference games. Every time you saw either team on the schedule, you knew it would be a dog fight.
14. If you could put together a list of your favorite players to watch or emulate, who is on that list and why?
John Woodard: JJ Watt, Michael Strahan, and Demarcus Ware. I love the intensity and motor JJ plays with. Strahan plays with great power and his bull-rush was tough for O-lineman to handle. Demarcus Ware’s ability to bend the edge on pass rush is always something I’m looking to emulate.
15. What NFL teams are your favorites and why?
John Woodard: My favorite NFL team is the Tennessee titans because my hometown is Nashville and I’ve been a fan since I moved there.
16. Which NFL players do you think your game most closely resembles and why?
John Woodard: Carlos Dunlap and Calais Campbell. Although they are taller in stature, they are long DEs that use their length to set the edge well. They also can convert speed to power in their pass rush, as well as bend the edge with speed.
17. When football is over what would you like to do with your education?
John Woodard: I have a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration. Once I complete my MBA, in the same field, my goal is to work as a hospital administrator or practice manager. Fitness has grown to be one of my passions as well, so I would like to work in that field one day.
18. Finally if you could go back in time to talk to 17 year-old you, what would you tell him?
John Woodard: To believe in yourself, not sell yourself short, and have faith. At 17 I was skinny, lanky, and I didn’t think I even had the ability or potential to play professionally. That dream didn’t become feasible to me until after my sophomore season.
- And what would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
John Woodard: I’ve made my share of mistakes along this journey, but I’ve learned so many lessons from them that I can’t say that I would take anything back. These life lessons have helped mold me into the man I am today.
What [if any] is/are your nickname[s] and how did you get it/them?
John Woodard: Big Tru. I got it from an upperclassman my true freshman year.