It was Paul McCartney who sang "The Long & Winding Road" and for D.J. Woods and his parents Derrick and Kelly the road to Cincinnati was ever so long and winding. But today, all roads brought one of Ohio's top prospects to Brian Kelly and his upstart Bearcats.
As parents the recruiting process can be one of excitement, confusion, heartache and great expense as you travel with your child around the country looking at schools and attending the many camps and combines college coaches and recruiting services have in place.
For the Woods family this was very true as their son D.J. performed well enough to have some of the country's top football programs call offering scholarships to attend their university. As this process continues parents even get caught up in the hype and hysteria surrounding big-time college football and the recruiting process.
"Looking back we learned it wasn't about being the biggest name school when all was said and done," said Kelly Woods about the recruiting process. "Until you go through it you really won't understand. I know we didn't until it started happening. After a while you're just taken back because all the talk is about your child. You enjoy watching your child play pee-wee football and if he's good enough you know he'll have a chance to play on Friday nights. But then all of a sudden you see that your child is going to play on Saturday's and that's when it really hits you and you know he's accomplished something very special."
Despite all the talk, phone calls and message board chat, the Woods family has kept things very simple trying to find the right fit for their son. Keeping their son humble is one way the Woods family has tried not to let things get out of hand.
"First and foremost we can't stress enough that D.J. is not better than anyone else. This is not to say he's not a very good player, but he's only one part of a recruiting class wanting to help Cincinnati win a Big East Championship," stressed Derrick Woods. Too many people want to look at these kids and place them on a pedestal. We're still talking about 17-18 year old kids who have great God given talents and we must remember that."
While the Woods family learned the harsh reality of college football recruiting over the past several months, they still feel with their son's final decision and the overall process was a growing experience that will last with D.J. the rest of his life.
"We learned not to take it personal," Kelly Woods said. "We know it's about winning football games. These coaches are hired to win football games and get the best talent in their schools to make it happen."
"Looking back I remember how excited we were when D.J. received his very first offer from Eastern Michigan. We were ready to sign the day he got it, but then you learn there is so much more ahead that you never knew about. We told D.J. that it's not all about the "bling-bling" because you want to be part of something special. It doesn't have to be the biggest name school anymore; it's all about finding the best fit socially, academically and athletically. Look around the NFL and you'll see receivers there from all different types of schools and not just those with the big names."
"Even I had to come off my high horse in this area and tell myself not to base it on the fact its Michigan or the other big schools that offered D.J. a scholarship. You want what's best for your child and in the end we felt Cincinnati was the best place for him to start the next phase of his life. We want D.J. to stay focused, humble and true to himself and we feel he'll be able to do that at Cincinnati."
For the Bearcats this was one of the biggest recruiting battles in recent memories and proves that some of the top talent in Ohio and across the country should look at Brian Kelly and his Bearcats football program as a legitimate destination.
Bearcat Insider would like to thank Derrick and Kelly Woods for taking the time and sharing their experience during the recruiting of their son.