Mutual Respect Returned by Woods

Texas' Roy Williams showed some mutual respect of Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods yesterday during the first session of the Big 12 Media Days in Kansas City, saying the Cowboy wideout was the best in the country. Thursday morning it was Woods' turn to return the accolades, saying he admires Williams so much that he studies him extensively.

Both wide receivers spurned big money from the NFL to return to their respective programs in the Big 12 South. Like Williams, Woods is coming off a first-team All-American season. The Cowboy wideout caught a Big 12-record 107 passes, putting him fourth nationally, to go along with 1,695 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior.

Woods has gotten to where he is now by studying various receivers, including Williams.

"I look at it from this perspective," said Woods in responding to Williams' comment, "as a receiver, I watch all receivers and learn all that I can. Whether he's a professional athlete or college athlete, I watch them all because you can learn from them all. Roy is probably doing the same thing by watching me, because I watch him and admire the way he plays."

Williams also expressed admiration for professional receivers like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and former Minnesota Viking Pro Bowler Cris Carter.

"I've been doing it since I was a freshman," Woods said. "My wide receivers coach told me that you can learn from anybody. I've watched a lot of film. I've watched Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. They go about doing things a little different. They have different moves and I see them doing it one way and go out and try doing it the next day. That's one of the best things I've learned.

"I really liked the way Cris Carter. When he was with Minnesota, I loved to watch him. He was so good catching the ball and getting separation."

What separates Woods from other prolific players across the nation is his drive to succeed and take his team to another level.

"We need to continue to build because you can always get better," he said. "If you do that, you'll always be successful. I want to become a complete player," he said. "You can only run so fast and gain so much weight, but if I can continue to improve my game and learn from others I will get better."

He passed up the lure of the NFL for a number of reasons, including the goal of helping OSU improve on its 8-5 bowl team of a year ago. Of course, getting the opportunity to play with his two brothers D'Juan, a redshirt freshman quarterback, and Donovan, a true freshman quarterback, also helped keep him leaning towards remaining in Stillwater.

"He's a very mature guy," said Cowboy head coach Les Miles, who returns for his third season. "He made the decision to postpone wealth to come back for his senior year. He enjoys playing with his brothers, playing college football and wanted to get some things done.

"I think he does a good job in front of the media and is comfortable. On the football field, he has developed a very competitive, athletic philosophy. When he gets into game-day play, you're excited to have him on your team."

Miles played somewhat of a role in helping Woods make up his mind to stay, but the choice was largely in the hands of the receiver's.

"I felt, in Rashaun's heart, this was a decision he was leaning on staying the whole time," Miles said. "Anytime you postpone making a whole lot of money, that's a decision you have to make on your own. He also had a lot of support at home. I was his information guy and tried to let him know where he ranked. He put values of playing with his brother, playing his senior year and with the idea this team could be very successful."

Team notes

OSU's season opener against Nebraska has created a lot of headlines in Kansas City, since it comes before any of the two programs non-conference games.

"It will be a great sense of urgency in preparation, knowing we're playing a very fine football team at their place," Miles said. "Our team and coaches will understand our season starts now. At the same time, we're going to go play our football. We're not going to be tight. We're going to play like we play on offense and defense. We're excited for that challenge."

How will the Cowboys prepare for a team that brings in new offensive and defensive coordinators?

"There are hints and places to look where you might get a feel for them offensively, defensively and special teams, but their coordinators have changed," Miles said. "We have to prepare for the season and Nebraska, but I think you'll find some adjustments."

Taking the next step is a motto for this program, which enters 2003 with high hopes after winning eight games last fall and knocking off in-state rival Oklahoma for the second consecutive year.

"We need to build on last year and set new goals because we're a better football team right now," said defensive end Greg Richmond. "We're setting our expectations high and hopefully we'll back up here with you guys in December."

Added Miles, "In our first fall we were just getting the team in place where the team could anticipate who the playmakers. We finally became a good football team on the back end of that season. Going into last season, it was a pretty comfortable transfer for them to see if we could play like we did at the back end of the season before, we could be a bowl team this season. We have accomplished certain goals for this team, left some things out on the table and have some more ambitious goals set."

(CN would like to thank The Nest Bar & Grill in Johnston for sponsoring our coverage from Kansas City. CN & The Nest would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, August 27th for our 2003 preseason tailgate party. Stay tuned to CN and 1460-KXNO for more details)

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