E.J. Woods, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound, California four-star safety has helped steer his team (Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino) to an 11-2 record and a spot in the Div.1 Pac-5 championship game against Poly High School from Long Beach. Woods has 61 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. He also rushed for 521 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"On defense I have nose for the ball," Woods said. "I have great ball skills and my closing speed really stands out. I have great feet and tackling ability and always make the play.
"I sometimes play over aggressive and can get beat out of position, so I want to work on that." Woods claims a 255 pound bench press, 425 squat and a 35" vertical jump.
Woods committed to UCLA during the summer, but has been labeled as a "soft commit," ever since taking a trip to Washington on Oct. 19. "I'm about 96 percent sure I'm gonna go to UCLA," he said. "But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity (recruiting) and taking official visits is something I'll never be able to do again, so I really wanted to go and see what it's like."
He visited the Huskies for the Oregon game and says he was really impressed with what he saw. "It was a really good visit," he said. "I liked it a lot and they really caught my eye. I like coach Tyrone Willingham and he's a great man. He seems very faithful to his players and wants his team to succeed as student athletes. Also I really like my chances to play early there because they have a lot of seniors that will be leaving."
Woods says he watched Washington lose to Hawaii in heartbreaking fashion on TV (Dec. 1). "It was really unfortunate they couldn't hold on (the Huskies led early 21-0). But I think that Washington will be better and will be a top team in the Pac-10 in the next few years.
"So will UCLA. I think their offense really needs some help," he said after watching the Bruins lose to USC. "They have a pretty strong defense and the offense just needs to make less mistakes. They had a really tough year and have had a lot of bad luck. It all starts with the quarterback and they had to play with a second string, third string and even a converted wide receiver as quarterback this year. I think they'll be a great program again once they get some help on offense.
"It's extremely unfair the criticism that coach Karl Dorrell is getting," he said. "He's in a lose/lose situation and it seems like when they win he doesn't get the credit and when they lose it's all on him.
"I've heard the rumors about him and I really hope he stays and doesn't get fired," Woods said. "If he leaves that's something that I'll really have to sit down and talk over with my family. One of the main reasons I committed to UCLA was coach Dorrell and how he took a chance on me. My grades weren't good my freshman and sophomore year and coach Dorrell still offered me. He told me to promise him that I was gonna work hard and get my grades up and I did. Now I'm qualified and he really motivated me."
Woods says he plans to visit UCLA in January, but hasn't set up a date yet. "The coaches have also talked about coming on an in-home visit this week and I definitely plan to ask them about what's gonna happen to coach Dorrell."
"I like coach Mike Bellotti at Oregon and how they've been a winning program for a long time," he said. "If (quarterback) Dennis Dixon didn't go down they might be playing for the national championship.
"I also like Colorado and how they were a powerhouse in the 90's and are rebuilding to get back to that level."
He says that the Huskies, Ducks and Buffs have been recruiting him very hard recently and expects in-home visits from all of them.
Woods reports a 2.6 core GPA and says he scored "around 1400" on his SAT.