For D.J. Woods and his family they've learned some of the hard lessons of football recruiting 101. Having made two verbal commitments only to see coaching changes can sour anyone about the process, but all along Woods has kept faith in his abilities and knowing there is a right place for him to continue reaching for his goals.
In talking with D.J. and his father Derrick after their visit with Cincinnati you can see this family has been on a journey. Derrick Woods explained.
"On Friday during our drive down it was raining. Each time we've visited a school and it was raining the visit would be terrible. We both kind of looked at each other and felt we knew what was ahead of us on this trip. But on Saturday, we awoke and looked outside to see one of the most beautiful days of the year and that set the tone for what was ahead."
The tone was set early and often for Woods and his family as they learned more about the program they knew little about. "Having not been here before I came in expecting to see some old rundown buildings as a campus and not much more. But I was blown away with what I saw as Cincinnati is a very modern campus with lots of positives about it," continued Derrick Woods. "I know his mother and I were very surprised with what we saw and this will only make it harder on D.J. when it comes to making his decision in the coming weeks."
But while both parents were blown away, the one that matters most is D.J. when it's all said and done. What did the star wide receiver come away feeling from his visit?
"Cincinnati is right up there. They brought the whole works on me and I'm very impressed with what I saw. I'd have to say it was one of my best visits and I wasn't expecting it to be."
During his stay Woods learned firsthand from a fellow wide receiver what would be expected of him. Hosting him was freshman star receiver Marcus Barnett. How important was it that a fellow wide receiver was part of his visit?
"Bones being my host was really important. He plays my position and talked to me about what would be expected of me if I came to Cincinnati. He's a good person and really cool to hang around with. He told me how I would become a better player and explained everything to me. I felt comfortable being around him and came away feeling like I was part of the Cincinnati family."
But while learning from a current player plays a major role, feeling comfortable with the coaching staff is also very important. How did D.J. feel about wide receivers coach Charley Molnar and head coach Brian Kelly?
"Coach Molnar knows what he's talking about. He's been in this business for a long time and knows what he's doing. While most coaches talked about me getting better, Coach Molnar has a plan for me to get better and have a chance to reach the next level. I really liked him and felt comfortable being with him."
And head coach Brian Kelly?
"You know you'd never know he was a college head coach or not. He makes you feel real comfortable and you can see he's very down to earth. You also can see he understands and listens to his players and has their best interest at heart."
For Woods the Cincinnati visit made him understand one thing.
"This visit makes my choice really hard. I've got some "Big Time" offers and coming here I can see Cincinnati is an up and coming program that is going to be successful. At Cincinnati I'll be able to play as a freshman and it's not far from home. This makes it really hard. I've come away a little star-struck from this visit. I know this is a very important decision not just for football, but for the direction my life with take."
Woods knows the days are counting down and he'll have to make his choice. He'll visit Michigan next weekend and then shut things down and keep it quiet for a few days. He'll than talk with his family and make his decision ending all the suspense for the third and final time in what can best be described as one of the strangest recruiting tales in recent years. Whatever the outcome, D.J. Woods and his family now know Cincinnati is a major player sitting perched and ready to be one of the hottest programs in the country in the coming years. Will he be part of it? We'll know in few weeks.