Pleasant Surprises Include Shannon Woods

<p>Coach Mike Leach called running back Shannon Woods' name first when asked about pleasant surprises during spring football training at Texas Tech. <p>"Yeah," Leach said. "Shannon Woods has looked good."

The 5'10, 193-pound Woods, who ran for more than 1,500 yards and scored 20 touchdowns in his career at McKinney North High School, has done some exciting things in Red Raider practices. Clocked last year at 4.4 in the 40, Woods racked up some impressive feats during August – and made a few freshman miscues, too. But Woods' performance impressed Coach Leach enough to earn the youngster top billing at backup running back when 2005 spring practices started.

By Saturday's scrimmage, though, Shannon Woods' steps up looked as though he were ready to fill graduating tough-yards pick Johnny Mack's shoes. Official Tech accounts of the April 2 performance include 10 carries for 34 yards and four catches for 25 more. All day long, Woods appeared in sync either to take the handoff or to snag a pass out of the backfield.

If he can continue to hold the edge in footwork and sure-handedness to go with his improved physicality, he will see a fair amount of playing time behind Taurean Henderson this year. That's a combination some observers favor, compared to last year's Henderson-Mack backfield duo; with the Henderson-Mack record of success, the Henderson-Woods option should really impress.

Woods' maturity may be a result of off-the-field experiences; according to Dallas newspaper accounts, recruiters started talking to Woods' parents about their son when Shannon was only eight years old. At that time, the prospectors' game was flag football; by the time he was 17, the young man decided the time had come to strike out on his own. Not everything went as he had planned; with help from McKinney North coach Shawn Pratt, Woods returned home to complete his high school career. Woods said of that experience that he "learned what had to be done to understand more about everything."

With the annual Red-Black game just days away, Woods continues to demonstrate an ability to learn. Spring practices continue through April 18; the yearly intra-squad contest will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday April 16 in Jones SBC Stadium, according to an April 2 Texas Tech press release.

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