Returning from his official visit to the University of Michigan on Sunday left D.J. Woods thinking about what was just ahead and around the corner. Fans of two previous schools had already felt the loss as the Ohio wide receiver made changes in commitments when coaching changes caused concern in his previous schools of choice. Now it was about to happen again as fans of two school sat by their computers awaiting his announcement between Michigan and Cincinnati.
"Making the decision of not going to Nebraska was very hard. I felt like part of the program and really loved many things about the school and the football program. But not knowing what was going to happen with the coaching staff was hard. After taking back my commitment I told myself I was going to take it one day at a time."
While many will tell prospects to pick a school because of the school, we can't fool ourselves as fitting into a coach's scheme is just as important to future success as choosing the right major. Prospects have learned to find coaches that will place them in the right position to find success and who can blame them.
As many know Woods reopened his recruiting and traveled to West Virginia wanting to take a deeper look at the program Rich Rodriguez has taken to another level. After seeing what the Mountaineers had to offer, Woods found it easy to give Rodriguez his verbal commitment and end the process for the second time. Just like Nebraska, Woods learned his stay as a member of the West Virginia recruiting class was going to be short lived. Rodriguez left town in a hurry and became a "Michigan Man" leaving his recruiting class in limbo.
"After learning that Coach Rodriguez was leaving I asked myself "Why Me" because I couldn't believe what was happening. Am I a virus? It was then I started believing that everything happens for a reason and there was a reason this happened."
While coaching changes at two schools may have reopened Woods recruiting, he still had Rodriguez working to get him to Michigan. It was at this time Woods heard from a coach that has never given up recruiting him. Charley Molnar of Cincinnati had targeted Woods and reached out again offering him an official visit.
Woods told the Bearcats receiver coach he'd visit but soon started questioning his decision to do so. After talking things over with his father, Woods remembered a quote the two of them found on the computer from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
"My dad and I like to lookup quotes on the computer. We came across one that really hit us hard."
Could a quote have helped the Bearcats land the biggest recruit maybe in school history? Read it and judge for yourself.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
And while knowing he was looking at taking a path different than many, he also heard the voices around him asking him why Cincinnati was even in the mix.
"I've been asked several times why even consider Cincinnati," continued Woods. And before my visit I was asking the same thing. But once I visited and listened to what Coach Molnar and Coach Kelly had to say it was "Why Not!" Put yourself in my shoes, I'm a wide receiver who wants the ball and wants to be a playmaker. Coach Molnar has been coaching receivers for a long time and he's told me all along that he considered me the top receiver in Ohio. Coach Kelly has a proven track record that he'll throw the football and in the end this was a major factor in picking Cincinnati."
During our conversation D.J. would stress the importance of being part of a new tradition at UC. He knows that until he arrives on campus and proves himself, he's just another football player that hasn't proven anything to anyone with fans having high expectations.
"Yes there is pressure but it's a good pressure. I'm a normal football player wanting to do what helps the team win. If that means I'm catching lots of passes or blocking its all the same to me. Coach Kelly wants us to experience winning a Big East Championship and playing in a BCS game, and I'm sure that is the goal every player on the team has as well."
But Woods was feeling a bit different Sunday night going into Monday morning. Late Sunday the furnace in the Woods home went out and left the family without heat.
"When we left Michigan it was 50/50 on what school I'd pick. Because of the furnace being out I placed myself down in front of the fireplace to stay warm and try to sleep but keep waking up. Real early in the morning my dad came down and we started talking. My mom soon followed asking what we were doing and after a few minutes she said she'd heard enough and was going back to bed. We then decided to go back to sleep and when I woke up about 5 o'clock I knew I was a Bearcat. It felt right and about 8 I went back to sleep until about 1 or 2 and had the same feeling."
As is common practice Woods made the call to Michigan telling them he was going to Cincinnati. He then made the call to Coach Kelly and Coach Molnar and soon learned their excitement.
"Coach Kelly was really excited when I told him. He started screaming Yes, Yes, Yes and Coach Molnar's voice keep getting louder as we talked."
Not only did Woods feel it was right, he sounded like it was right. Having talked with him over the past two weeks a few times you could tell a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"It really feels good and people are telling me my smile has returned."
One thing Woods already knows is he'll be wearing the number 3 during his Bearcats career. The number has special meaning and the Bearcats staff has already told him he'd be able to wear it.
"My grandmother has nicknames for all of us. I was called deuce and my sister was called trey and I use to wear the number two. But then I transferred my sophomore year and a senior had the number two. So I was given three and I've looked at it that I'm honoring my grandmother and my sister by wearing the number three."
While the Bearcats won the battle for D.J. Woods, they've got a few more battles going on before the class will be final. Will they have the same success as they found with D.J. Woods? Stay tuned because signing day is only a short time from now.