Woodson's development phenomenal

Andre Woodson's development from his sophomore to junior season can be described in one word: phenomenal.

Andre Woodson's development from his sophomore to junior season can be described in one word: phenomenal.

Woodson was a highly regarded prospect coming in out of North Hardin (Ky.) High School, but his first couple of seasons at Kentucky he only showed short flashes of the brilliance that he possessed.

In high school, Woodson was a three-year starter and before his senior year, he was invited to the "Elite Eleven" Quarterback Camp in California. "Before the camp, most people didn't know about me," Woodson said. "I ran a wishbone (offense) in high school," he continued. After a strong performance, he began receiving attention from numerous major programs. "Louisville, Penn State, and Tennessee offered me scholarships, but I chose to stick with Kentucky," said Woodson.

When Woodson arrived at Kentucky, the starting quarterback position was Jared Lorenzen who was backed up by future starter, Shane Boyd. Because of the depth at the quarterback position, he redshirted and as a redshirt freshman, he played sparingly, in seven games backing up Shane Boyd. Even in limited action, his numbers showed ability. Woodson completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 492 yards, two touchdowns, and only one interception.

His sophomore year, Woodson started all eleven games. While Woodson was still adjusting to being a full-time starter at quarterback, running back Rafael Little carried the Wildcat offensive attack, amassing almost 1,500 yards rushing and receiving and nearly another 500 in punt and kick return yardage. Even with Little being there to take some of the burden off, Woodson still struggled. He completed only 57.7 percent of his passes for 1644 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions.

Going into Andre's junior year, he found himself battling the exciting sophomore Curtis Pulley for the starting spot. After spring practice, Woodson found himself as Pulley's backup. The young quarterback was at a crossroad in his career. That was when Woodson stepped up his efforts.

A big part of why Woodson stepped up was new quarterback coach Randy Sanders. "Randy has done a fabulous job," said Andre. "He's made me understand how important practice is and given me a great understanding of what it takes to be a great SEC quarterback," Woodson continued. "He made Andre focus on the positive things, not the negative," said Rich Brooks. "He was able to get him to focus and channel his ability, which he always had, in the right direction."

Focusing is an understatement. Woodson became a leader and a player that the younger guys looked up to due to his rejuvenated work ethic. All the work paid off for Andre when he regained his starting spot. In the first game of his junior year, a loss to Louisville, Woodson threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Although he completed only nine of 23 passes, he showed an ability to stretch the field the way Wildcat coaches and fans had been waiting for.

Woodson's improvement was apparent throughout the season. He completed 63 percent of his passes, while throwing 31 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Woodson only failed to complete less than 60 percent of his passes twice in 13 games and failed to throw a touchdown only once. He led the SEC with 3515 passing yards and led the league in total offense per game at 259.8 yards per game. He currently is the all time leader in SEC history in interception ratio. At this time, he has thrown 162 consecutive passes without an interception, a school record. After throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns against Vanderbilt, he was named Sports Illustrated Player of the Week. He was also named second team all conference last season.

Accolades aside, Woodson's biggest accomplishment was leading the Wildcats to their best season in two decades, including big wins over Georgia and Clemson. "We earned some respect last season," said Woodson. "To earn more respect, we have to win more games this season," he continued. Individually, Woodson has already earned preseason recognition. He was chosen as preseason first team all SEC by the coaches and media receiving 62 out of 80 total votes.

While the individual honors are good, Woodson knows that he and his team cannot rest on their laurels. "We just want to contend and win games. Last year was great, but it was last year and we have to stay humble and move on," he said. "We've done a great job this summer, and we're ready to get out there this year and get after it."

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