Wood, an extremely intelligent young man, recalled fondly his early days of playing football as a youngster in the Pickerington youth football league.
"I started playing in the sixth grade when I moved in with my dad," Wood said. "I was too scared to play before then, but my dad got me involved in the Pickerington youth program, and the rest is history. I started off playing running back, and I just fell in love with the game. I was a pretty average-sized kid, but then I hit a growth spurt going into the seventh grade, and things kind of took off from there."
Today, Wood is known as a hard-hitting safety, and his physical style of play is what stood out to college recruiters, but it always wasn't that way.
"I remember being scared to hit people, and I didn't like being hit in the beginning," he remembered. "At first, I would come up and hit people because I had to do it, but I eventually grew to love that aspect of the game. I take a lot of pride in playing a physical style of football, and the violent nature of the game is what I love about it. It's something I look forward to, and that's why I prefer playing defense. I just like running around, and making plays. I just seemed to gradually get better every year in football, rather than being a big star player all along."
It wasn't long before college recruiters began to take notice, and that took Wood by surprise initially. Before his junior year, he began to dream about possibly playing college football.
"My junior year is when I started to develop the confidence that I might be able to play college football," Wood said. "I always worked very hard, but I just never saw myself as an elite player, or a guy who would have colleges looking at him. In the early part of my junior year things started happening for me. The first school to really catch my eye was Cincinnati. I still have the first recruiting letter they sent me, and I was so excited to get that first bit of attention from college coaches. By the middle of my junior year things really started picking up, and I started to see that I probably was going to be playing college football."
Wood remembers fondly the moment he received his first scholarship offer, from Cincinnati. There would be more to follow, including a school that he never imagined would be interested in having him be a part of their program.
"My first offer came from Cincinnati," Wood said. "They offered me verbally after the final game of my junior season. My coach pulled me aside after the game and told me they were offering. I had visited Cincinnati, and really liked them a lot, but I never dreamed they would offer me a scholarship. Then I started getting some other offers, and things were taking off, but I never thought Ohio State knew who I was. They were my dream school, but they weren't even recruiting me at all."
Eventually the dream offer materialized, and even though Wood planned to think it through, he committed to Ohio State within days of receiving his offer.
"The funny thing is that I had been to Ohio State as a visitor, but I went as a tag-along with Patrick White," he said laughingly. "I went to games on his tickets, and I always thought he would be the guy from our school getting offered, not me. My high school coaches were talking to Ohio State, and they were pushing for me. I thought I was just on a list with about a hundred other guys, but I started getting pretty excited about Ohio State. Most of the Big Ten schools had offered by this time, so I figured I was in pretty good shape.
"One day last February, after conditioning, my coach came up to me and handed me a phone number and said, 'You need to call this man tonight,' but he didn't tell me who it was. I saw the 614 exchange, and I remember asking him if it was Jim Tressel's number, and he just started laughing. That might have been the greatest moment of my life."
That phone call culminated with the Ohio State offer that Wood had previously only dreamed about. That phone call also eliminated Cincinnati, and every other school, from any possible consideration.
"I was supposed to call Coach Tressel that evening, but I didn't want to wait that long," Wood recalled. "I called the number, and sure enough, it was Jim Tressel. He told me he loved my athletic ability, and he told me he was offering me a scholarship. He told me to stop by and see him at the next basketball game, so I went to junior day the next Sunday. I didn't plan on committing that day at all, but once I got there everything changed. All of a sudden it hit me, and I was thinking just how great everything was, and how no school in the country could top this program. I love the Ohio State coaching staff, and I just knew I had to do it. I was sitting in Coach Tressel's office, and I just blurted out that I wanted to be a Buckeye, right out of the blue. Coach Tressel came running around from behind his desk, and he was shaking my hand, and he was really happy. That was a great moment, and I'll never forget it. My dad and stepmom were with me, and even they were kind of surprised. I called my mom in Atlanta, and she was very happy for me. We took some pictures with Coach Tressel, and we still have them."
Jim Tressel, although ecstatic over the Wood commitment, never pressured the young man for a decision. That type of approach really won over the Wood family.
"Ohio State never pressures recruits into making a quick decision, and we really appreciated that," Wood said. "That's just not how the other schools do their business, but it's why Ohio State doesn't get that many de-commits. Coach Tressel told me the first night that there was no hurry, and he wanted me to be 100 percent sure whenever I made my decision. He told me he would always let me know before they would fill my spot, and my family really appreciated his honesty."
Wood is still close with Tressel, but also has formed a solid relationship with Buckeye defensive back coach Paul Haynes.
"Coach Haynes and I are like best friends, and we speak every couple of weeks," he stated. "He always talks about how my game went the past week, and we talk football. He said that my decision to enroll early will help me get established quicker. He just tells me to be ready to come in, learn everything as quick as I can, and be ready to contribute. He said players earn playing time at Ohio State by what they do in practice. I'm enrolling in March, and I'll go through spring practice. I'm hoping to play next year, and I'm willing to prove myself on special teams. I'm planning on playing, but I'm not opposed to redshirting. It just depends on how things work out, and how well I perform."
Pickerington Central teammate Zach Boren has also committed to Ohio State, and will also be enrolling early along with Wood. The two are close friends, and Wood admits it will be great having Boren with him at Ohio State.
"We've always been friends, and Zach is a great guy," Wood said of his teammate. "Zach is a great player, and we've been playing sports against each other since we were kids. We all hang out together, including Zach's older brother, Justin, who's at Ohio State right now. It will be great to be together with both of them. People will be surprised at how good Zach is. He got hurt in our last playoff game, and his injury really hurt us. Zach is going to do really well at Ohio State."
Being a local high school player will make the transition to college life a lot easier for Wood, and he appreciates the fact that he won't have to leave home to attend school.
"That was a big factor for me, and for my family," he said. "Having my family not have to travel to see me play will be great. I'm a homebody at heart, and I'm thrilled at not having to go far from home to school. My parents mean so much to me, and they've been my biggest inspiration. My parents are divorced, and both are remarried, but I have a great relationship with both of them. My mother lives in Atlanta, but I'm as close to her as I am my dad here in Columbus. My family is my reason for me always trying to do the right things at all times. I have two siblings in Atlanta with my mom, and I have a younger brother and two younger sisters here with my dad. My priorities are God and family in my life. When I'm on the field, I'm playing for them."
His father not only stressed the importance of academics, but also proved how important it was to him by removing Jamie from a junior high basketball team because of poor grades.
"My family has always preached the importance of academics over athletics, and they were serious about it," Wood said. "Back in seventh grade I wasn't doing as well as I could have, so my dad pulled me off the basketball team. It hurt my dad too, because he loves watching me play sports. He really laid the law down, and I learned pretty quickly that he meant business. I'm happy to say I've been an honor roll student ever since that experience."
Wood has thought about what he hopes to gain from going to school at Ohio State.
"Of course, I want to play and be a contributor," he said. "I just want to be successful in everything I do off the field as well. I know being an Ohio State football player can only benefit me after I receive my degree, and enter the real world looking for a job. I want to major in communications at Ohio State, and see exactly what I can do with that area of study."
Jim Tressel is often mentioned by players as a person they look up to and admire, and Wood is no different in that regard.
"Coach Tressel is like a father figure to me, and while I know that there are no perfect men in this world, he comes pretty close," Wood stated. "Coach Tressel has his value system in place, and he lives his life that way. He believes in his spiritual life, his family, and then comes football. It seems like he's a man that has his priorities in the right order, and I admire him for that. It's obvious that he's a great coach, but I view him as another great role model in my life, much the way I view my own father. He tries to teach his players the way to be successful both on the field, and in life itself. He's about so much more than football, and it's a shame that not every player grasps that part of the man.
"Whenever I see a player at Ohio State get in trouble I know how much that must hurt him, and it probably makes him feel like he's failed them in some way. I know what a privilege and an honor it is to be a football player at Ohio State, and I'm going to try to uphold my end of the bargain as far as being a scholarship athlete. If I end up in trouble at Ohio State, it will be my dad who comes looking for me before it will be Coach Tressel. Hopefully, the things I've been taught at home will keep me from repeating some of the mistakes I've seen other players make."
Wood has a solid relationship with several of his future Buckeye teammates, including many members of the 2009 recruiting class.
"I'm closest with Storm Klein, and we talk all the time," Wood said. "We have a strong relationship, and we would be roommates, but Zach Boren and I had already decided to do that before Storm decided to enroll early. Storm is kind of the leader of our class, and he's been trying to help us recruit our class. We are almost done right now, and I think we have an extremely talented class. I've been talking to Corey Adams, and he's a great kid. His parents are from Ohio, and he's looking for a stable program. I know he likes Ohio State a lot.
"I've also spoken with Marcus Hall and Marlon Brown. Our class is very close, and I think these recruits can see that. We have a lot of talented guys coming in to Ohio State, and I think we're going to keep the tradition going that the older players have set. We always wish each other well before we play, and it was great to see our class almost finished by the middle of the summer. It shows just how badly all of us want to be Buckeyes, and I really think we are going to do great things before we leave this university."