(picture courtesy espn.com)
(Not to swipe material from the legendary Wayne "Box" Miller, but I figure D.J. Woods deserves some "love" too since he's paid his dues "waiting in the wings". He doesn't seek media. He isn't outlandish. He just makes plays as he did in UC's spring wrap up--Bearcat Bowl IV).
Next to Armon Binns, junior D.J. Woods is UC's top returning receiver with 51 catches last season (10 less than Binns). With Binns injured for Bearcat Bowl IV, Woods proved he was the highest-ranking veteran receiver by hauling in six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
And, just to spice things up, Woods hurled a 60-yard option pass that almost went for a touchdown to Vidal Hazelton.
"I told Zach (Collaros) he better watch his spot, I might take it," joked Woods afterward. "It was a great overall play. I saw Vidal, he was wide open and I knew if I just threw it up there he'd get it. I put everything in it, he made a great play on it."
It turned out to be the play of the game and it was one of the plays called by a fan in the stands (off a list of suggestions). As fun as it was, that particular fan has not been offered a job on staff, but there's a chance that play could reappear come fall.
"Ssssh," to the surrounding media after the game. "You know we've had that with other players running it. That play is three-for-three now in spring football games."
In Brian Kelly's inaugural year, Marcus Barnett threw a 76-yard pass at South Florida that nearly went for a score, so maybe Woods might get the call to heave the ball deep yet again sometime to pass "Bones" in passing yards.
"I really hope so," said Woods. "I really like making plays overall and I'd like to do it again."
Beyond the pass play, Woods had a spectacular night and a great month of April overall. While the two noteworthy transfers (Vidal Hazelton-USC and Kenbrell Thompkins-Tennessee) got a lot of the headlines, Woods proceeded in workman-like fashion to do his job and prove his worth. Lest you forget, D.J. Woods was highly recruited out of Strongsville and was considered a tremendous "get" when he signed.
Now, after playing in the shadows of Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard, could this be a year when #3 steps to the forefront and thrives in the offense of Butch Jones?
"D.J. played exceptionally well," said Jones. "You know, he came up to me after the game and said,'Well coach, how'd I play?' D.J.'s been a model of consistency all spring. I thought that he had a good performance and I thought we blocked good on the perimeter for him on the bubbles as well."
Not only did D.J. impress Coach Jones, he also earned the respect of Walter Stewart and the Bearcat defense. (Although, Stewart and company are already hoping to shut down Woods in a few months at Camp Higher Ground.)
"Man D.J., we've been trying to get a hold of this dude all spring," said Stewart in the post-game rain. "He's been doing this all spring. We've got to shut him down at camp (in August)."
As Stewart mentioned, Bearcat Bowl IV was not a "coming out party" or anything for D.J. Woods as he'd been making plays all month long. When you add in the considerable potential that Hazelton and Thompkins bring, plus get a healthy Armon Binns back and a spunky "Bones" Barnett, UC's receivers are downright scary.
While Woods is more conservative in his public statements on his teammates, Vidal Hazelton is not. The guy that played in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl, likes what UC can do in the air at "The Nipp" and any venue they play in.
"I can confidently say yes," said Hazelton when asked if UC has the best receiving corps in the college ranks. "No doubt about it. No other comments. I think we're the best receiving group in the nation."
Gilyard, Binns and Woods accounted for 26 scores through the air last season. Regardless of what three you want to list as starters on the Bearcats, it's reasonable to think those numbers could be surpassed in 2010.
Regardless of how it's distributed, you can be certain that #3 will get his share of six-point grabs.