Patience Could Pay Off for Woods

Jarrell Woods knew his first year at ASU was never going to be easy. The running back was joining a well established group, and with playing time already hard to come by, an ankle injury and the natural newcomer's learning curve made the transition for this JC transfer that more challenging. Woods took all of this in stride, and waited until the last game of 2007 season to strut his skills.

On Saturday, the 5-10 212 Jarrell Woods showed blazing speed in the open field, as he scored on a 60-yard draw playing during an 11-on-11 segment in the later portion of practice. Remarkably, he showed no ill effects of his medical procedure done a couple of months ago. "I'm feeling good right now," he said. "I'm coming off the ankle surgery I had over the winter, but I do feel 100%, and I'm just out there trying to do what I'm supposed to do."

Woods indicated that the ankle injury, suffered in Camp T, had him at 85% strength during the whole season. However, his hard work and positive attitude did finally earn him some playing time in Arizona State's last game of the season - the Holiday Bowl.

The running back made the most of the lone contest he participated in. Against Texas and mostly their first team defense, Woods carried the ball three times for 21 yards, with his longest run going for 18 yards. He also scored the Sun Devils' last points of the game, a 3-yard rushing touchdown.

If you think that this brief stint has helped the West Los Angeles transfer perform well in the spring, you're certainly sharing the same view as Woods himself. "The coaches giving me an opportunity to play in that game helped me tremendously with my confidence," Woods admitted. "You go a whole season without playing, you start doubting yourself a little bit. That confidence is helping me now in the spring. Playing in a real game, you get to see the speed of the game and you see that you can keep up - it helps your confidence."

Having the belief in himself didn't only come from the coaches' feedback, but also from the realization that he couldn't be discouraged from his lack of opportunities to showcase his skills. "I'm not gonna say it was frustrating," stated Woods as he recalled his emotions last year. "It was humbling more than anything else. I was behind three great running backs (Ryan Torain, Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance). Besides it being humbling, it was also encouraging and made me more than anything hungry. I was saying to myself – I can't sit out another season (smile). I can't do it."

The book on Jarrell Woods when he arrived in Tempe was that he was the epitome of a running back possessing an ideal balance of swiftness and power. The junior has 4.5 speed and a 39-inch vertical leap, to along with a bench press of 425 pounds. In his lone season at West Los Angeles College, he recorded 11 touchdowns on only 754 yards rushing.

"My blocking and learning the little aspects of the game are the skills I most improved on last year," he stated, "carrying out the play action…little stuff that you normally don't do in high school or junior college."

Woods signed with the University of Utah out of his high school and redshirted his first year with the Utes. In a previous interview to Devils Digest he indicated that he was unhappy there to say the least, and after what he described as his "worst practice ever" he had serious thoughts of abandoning the sport for good.

Obviously, he never went that route, gathered himself and transferred to a junior college and ultimately landed with ASU. Thus, demonstrating this resiliency can only aid him this year when the running back core will once again feature an abundance of talent.

"All this tells you is that you better make the most out of every play," he said about the once again battle for playing time. "We got a tremendous running back coming in this year in Ryan Bass so all you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get. You can't have a (lapse), because there's always someone on your heels trying to catch up to you and you're trying to catch up to somebody else."

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