The Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic Celtics are used to winning and winning a lot. Trips to the state playoffs are an annual event and this year 2016 4-star defensive end Jordan Woods believes things will be as good as they have ever been.
“There is just a connection this year,” Woods said earlier this week before suiting up for practice for their first playoff game of the year. “The last two years we knew we could do it, but this year we know we are going to do it. We want to get the seniors a championship. What better way to go out than to have a state championship.”
Woods has taken on a new mindset this year and isn’t looking for the easy way to make plays. He knows the harder he plays, the more it draws attention from his opponent and helps his teammates make plays. He has embraced that in order to help the team.
“This year I knew that I was going to have to man up and take the test, if I have to go against three guys, then I do,” Woods said. “I have to sacrifice my body for someone else. If I am drawing three players, someone is going to be open. That is something that I have done.”
He also said that he has improved spiritually, which is making him a better player, person, and teammate.
“Like Tim Tebow, I know I have to look at God first, that has something that has changed for me,” Woods said. “It is just me doing more hours in the Bible.”
Woods still has another full year of football to go but is one of the more sought after prospects in the state of Florida and the southeast. One of the schools coming hard after Woods is the University of Georgia. He likes the attention he is receiving from the Bulldogs.
“Coach Ball he took the place of the defensive line coach I was being recruited by,” Woods said of his Georgia recruiter. “He asks more questions about me than football. I just think he is a great man. He isn’t about a position or what I am as a player.”
Florida is right down the road about 40 minutes from his school. Woods has visited the Gainesville campus many times and has a super relationship with Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing. Woods says he learns from lawing and that he would rather talk to him in person than on the phone, because he wants to really get what the man is telling him.
“Coach Lawing, I talk to him in person rather than on the telephone,” Woods said. “He is more of a guy that if you look at him saying it he really gets his point across. He told me that I have an offer in his desk but that at any given time that I slack off or am not humble, that offer is gone. He was just telling me things about life that I have to do. I think that has also helped me this year over last year. I like the advice from someone that isn’t telling me just what I want to hear. For him to tell me that and be that forward about it, he is a good person.”
Woods has been watching the gators this year, and really appreciates the turnaround of the last two games as they head down the homestretch of the season.
“Facing adversity and manning up to the challenge,” was what ran through his mind thinking of the change in the Gators the last couple of weeks. “I think the same thing I did myself. It is tough ball in the SEC. Playing tough teams… they had a rough start and everyone was trying to find themselves and now they found themselves and I think they’re going to start rolling.”
Woods also had a stance on the play of freshman Treon Harris, who has seemed to light a fire under this Gator squad.
“I think Treon, like Matt Jones said, he is just another face making plays,” Woods said. “Sometimes it sparks up a team. When you see a guy making plays, a new guy, it is just a blessing from God that Florida got him and you see them going in another direction.”
Woods also takes notice of what Florida State is dong in college football.
“They are a school that the people aren’t normal,” he said. “Everyone says there is only one Alabama, one Michigan… there is just one Florida State. They are a school about swagger. They have their swagger back. It’s been 24 games since they’ve been beaten, so they feel good about themselves and can beat anyone. When I talk on the phone, they say, ‘come here and get your swagger’.
Being so far from having to make a decision, Woods isn’t close to doing so. He keeps things lively by wearing different school’s colors on any given day. He will eventually have to make a decision, but it will be tough on him.
“I wear different school stuff every day,” he said with a smile and showing off a Georgia arm band he had on that day. “I am not ready to make any kind of decision. I am the kind of person that doesn’t want to make anyone sad. One day I know I will have to do it.”
He plans on getting out a little bit more before the end of the year and will spend this Saturday in the Swamp watching the gators taking on another team he likes in South Carolina.
“I am going to Florida-South Carolina,” he said. “I am also trying to go to Georgia. If I could go to South Carolina I would. They opened the doors for me, opened the flood gates. I should be up to South Carolina for a game and Georgia for a game and I might go to the Florida – Florida State game.”
In the end, the academic program will be the thing that is most important to Woods and his decision on a program.
“My mom and dad always told me that my body won’t last as long as my brain,” he said. “Academics are very important for me. I want a degree that means something anywhere. I want to get a degree and be able to go way out to Oregon and get a job. I also want a great sports program.
“I also want a life changing experience; I don’t just want the same thing. I want something different. That is why I came to Trinity Catholic, it is something different and I can win championships.”