UCLA LB Josh Woods Ready to Step Up

Apr. 12 -- Josh Woods is still young for his grade, but after two years in the program, the junior linebackers feels ready to take on a bigger role in the defense...

On how spring practice is going so far

Good. I mean we’re all leveling up, we all getting better, getting some guys more reps – especially when we’re doing practice with the two fields, everybody is getting reps. So it’s good. 

On moving into a more prominent role this year

I’m very happy. Last year, being behind Jayon, I knew at WILL, he predominantly was going to play more. So I moved outside (to SAM), and now I’m moving back over to my regular position. I learned a lot from Jayon while he was here, and I watched him level up. So now it’s my turn. I’m happy with that.

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On where he’s at physically compared to where he was at the end of last season

I’m a little heavier. Definitely my legs, I feel a little faster than I was. But that’s the only difference. Everything’s all good. Older now. 

On his role as a leader this year for the defense

It’s crazy, because I came in at 17, so I’m only 19 and I’m younger than a lot of the freshman linebackers, but class-wise, I’m the second-oldest. After Kenny (Young), it’s me. So it’s definitely crazy how times have changed and now I’m the older guy on my way out. 

On how he started college early

I started school early when I was little, and then I graduated early from high school, so I started at 17. So this is my third spring ball, and the beginning of my junior year class-wise.

On how it suits him better to play weak-side linebacker as opposed to SAM

Now, playing at that weak-side, especially when we go nickel, I’ll come off the field. And me being a bigger body on that weak side when they’re running powers, back leads, it’s better. I can still run with anything – cover a slot. Plus, it’s me being on the field more, rather than playing SAM and only having the edge, now I’m back behind the ball, and I get to make more tackles, make more plays. 

On the early enrollee freshmen on defense

I’m really impressed with Jaelan Phillips coming in. I mean, this is his first time being with the team and you really can’t tell. He’s gotten a few opportunities with the 1s, and I can’t tell he’s a freshman; he’s already with the vets and everything. Also, Darnay Holmes, he’s making strides playing with the 1s. With him too, there’s no drop-off. Both of them (Holmes and Phillips) are ready to go with the 1s anytime.

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