Patrick profiles SMU defensive end Zach Wood in the latest Pony Stampede 2015 player profile!
Position: Defensive end
Size: 6-3, 263 pounds
Year: RS senior (three-year letterman)
High school: Rowlett (Rowlett, Texas)
Hometown: Rowlett, Texas
Zachary Wood was a three-star member of SMU’s 2010 class and Scout.com’s 103rd-rated defensive end (18th in Texas) for 2010. He chose SMU over a handful of other offers, including Minnesota, Virginia, Houston and Louisiana Tech. Wood earned Class 4A All-State honorable mention honors as a high school senior in 2010, racking up 115 tackles and 10 sacks. Before that, he notched 32 tackles for loss as a junior.
Wood started all 12 games at defensive end last year and collected a team-high four sacks, along with six tackles for loss (2nd on the team), 40 total tackles (led all defensive linemen) and a fumble recovery. SMU struggled to generate pressure all season long, but Wood was the most consistent source for it. He held his own against the run as well, despite playing on a defense that surrendered 236 rushing yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. Still, he wasn’t immune to the rest of the defense’s struggles, especially since he played end in a three-man front, which isn’t the best fit for him at 260 pounds, plus having responsibility for two gaps.
Wood is one of the defensive line’s most experienced players and will almost surely be counted upon as a starter. He’ll certainly open camp at one of the defensive end spots and play five-technique end. Now in the four-man front, he’ll be responsible for one gap and get more 1-on-1 battles with tackles. This will help him use his great strength to overpower one gap and shut it down. He’s not a speed guy off the edge and doesn’t have a huge variety of pass-rush moves, so he won’t play the seven-tech or Leo rusher-type spot.
Wood even lined up inside at the three-tech during SMU’s spring game, but that likely won’t happen during the season, even though he played just fine at tackle. Wood was already one of the stronger players on the defense, but in SMU’s new strength program, he’ll be even better with his bull rush and tackling. Expect Wood to play a lot of snaps again, and he has a good chance to lead SMU’s defensive linemen in tackles again. If SMU is able to generate more pressure and get some speed off the edge like it wants to, Wood probably won’t lead the team in sacks. But he is a good bet to top his four sacks from last year. Around fifty tackles and five to six sacks from Wood is a realistic possibility.