The Wait Nearing an End for Woods

Coming into a deep and talented stable of running backs, newcomer Jarrell Woods knew that it would be a fierce fight for playing time. An injury delayed his debut with the Sun Devils, and an injury to his fellow position member, Ryan Torain, may just have him finally register his first carry for the maroon and gold this Saturday against Cal. Devils Digest caught up with an anxious Jarrell Woods.

"I have to have a good week in practice, but it looks like this could be the week," said the 5-10 210 Jarrell Woods of his chances of playing this weekend. "I'm excited and I've been frustrated the last couple of weeks not being able to contribute to the team. I feel that they brought me up here for a reason and it's time for me to step up and show them why I should be here."

Easy paths certainly don't define the football career of Woods. The running back, who prepped at Novi High School in Northville, Mich., was getting heavily recruited by Michigan State, but a leg injury derailed that recruiting possibility as well as many others. He then 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. 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.

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 showed that he is the quintessence of a running back possessing an ideal balance of speed and power.

His stats, as well as the fact that because he was a qualifier out of high school he had three years of eligibility, was too attractive for the Arizona State coaches to pass. The attraction was mutual, as Woods committed just one day after his official visit to Tempe. While he was finishing up his studies in the spring, and residing in Tempe at the same time, Woods was a regular visitor to all 15 spring practices. He soaked up as much as he could of the playbook, and there were times during fall camp that this did pay dividends.

However, another leg injury (a high ankle sprain) forced him to miss a good part of fall camp, as well as several weeks after that event. "It was hard staying positive when I was injured," claimed Woods. "You tend to get down, and you really need to keep a positive attitude. That injury set me back probably more than I thought it would, but it's behind me."

When Woods moved to Tempe in the spring semester, he decided to room with quarterback Rudy Carpenter. Prior to fall practice; Woods was able to gain a wealth of knowledge from the Sun Devil signal caller. However, when he was injured Carpenter aided him in a different way. "Without a doubt he helped me," Woods stated. "He was somebody I could talk to, get advice from…talking to him, to my coach really allows you to have better spirits. They've been there handling different situations (in the past) and they were able to give me great advice."

The 7-0 start by ASU wasn't only pleasing to all those associated with the team, but also helped a player like Woods, to cope with the fact that he was on the sidelines. "You see quality running backs, Ryan, Dimitri (Nance) and Keegan (Herring) playing well," said Woods, "You can sit back and say ‘well, you know they are good (smile).' You don't really fight a proven commodity."

Woods stressed that it truly broke his heart to see Torain go down, even though he knew it was his ticket for playing time. "I pray for him," he remarked, "but the show must go on and everyone has to step it up now."

"It just feels that it's time to step up and make the most of my opportunity. When it comes, you either shine or you don't. I'm gonna try and contribute to the team when I'm in there. When you're wining games, you want to be at least on special teams and make some kind of contribution. Nobody wants to be the extra wheel that's just there doing nothing."

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