Player Profile: Zach Wood

Billy profiles SMU starting DE Zach Wood, who is poised to take a step forward this season with the two other returning starters.

Zachary Wood Player Profile

Position: Defensive End

Size: 6-3, 260

Year: Redshirt Junior (2 year letterman)

High School: Rowlett HS (Tex.)

Hometown: Rowlett, Texas

Recruitment: Wood was a three-star coming out of Rowlett and ranked as the No. 56 defensive tackle by ESPN. Wood dominated his junior year with 99 tackles, 32 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Wood followed that up with 115 tackles and 10 sacks his senior year. Chose SMU over Minnesota, Virginia and Houston.

2013 Recap: In Wood's first season as a starter, he tied for fifth on the team in tackles with 49, 25 solo. After playing in nine games and backing up Beau Barnes and Margus Hunt in 2012, Wood had six tackles for loss, including one sack.

Wood was an extremely active player along the defensive line, batting balls down, forcing fumbles and even blocking a kick on a point after attempt at Texas A&M.

Wood was a consistent contributor along a defensive line that ranked in the top 35 against the rush in the NCAA. With only one sack on the season, Wood didn't really do well getting after the quarterback and that didn't help SMU's secondary that struggled in 2013.

Grade: B

Outlook in 2014:Wood is solid against the run and does a solid job shedding blocks. SMU's defense does need more of Woods' playmaking so the defense can improve its poor turnover margin from last year. If Wood can be more of a playmaker, defenses will turn their attention to him more, allowing linebackers to roam freely to make plays.

The one area Wood needs to improve on his is his pass rushing skills. The defensive line has to step up in that department so defensive coordinator Tom Mason doesn't have to rely on his corners to run with every receiver on every play. Pressure on the quarterback will be key to improving SMU's pass defense that struggled mightily in 20133.

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