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Woods fits the vision on WSU D, prep coach tells CF.C

WHILE THE COUGAR D made significant gains last year, it's paramount to take the next step up in 2016 and not backslide. How do you get better on defense against (mostly) spread teams? In part, you sign quality hybrid linebackers. Jahad Woods out of La Mesa, Calif., who signed with Washington State and Mike Leach, is just what the Cougs wanted, his prep coach tells

Washington State came out on the recruiting trail a year ago in search of defensive speed, but without compromise in other areas, in order to fashion the type of defense Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch want to play, Helix High's Troy Starr tells CF.C.

At linebacker, that equates to being be able to cover running backs or slot men one-on-one, while still effectively blitzing the quarterback.

The hybrid types also need to play the run tough as nails, especially when facing a power run team -- WSU decidedly does not want to have to employ situational 'backers.

"In other words, they want the hybrid type of guy that spread, no-huddle teams cannot exploit," said Starr.

It was no accident that Woods (5-11, 215) was one of the first Cougar verbals of Mike Leach's 2016 class this past May -- he fits Grinch's vision, and so Grinch and the Cougar coaches went out and got him on board with WSU early (Grinch was the area recruiter).

"They want to get extremely fast on defense and he can run like Pac-12 DBs, but he will play linebacker for them," said Starr.

Linebackers coming out of high school generally need time to adjust to the speed of the Pac-12. It takes a while for them to simply read and react.  Woods, though, has the potential to play earlier than most, Starr indicated.

"He should be ready to play soon," said Starr.  "He has elite speed and explosiveness. He has the ability to make big plays, and he has football intelligence."

Starr mentioned "speed and explosiveness" multiple times to CF.C in regard to Woods. But speed and talent only get high school players so far when making that big transition to a Power 5 school.

Woods has those intangibles covered, too, said Starr.  

"Off the field, he's zero maintenance -- with an excellent work ethic," said Starr. "On the field, he has a 'Wow!' factor."

-On Signing Day, Washington State said that Woods goes by Jahad, rather than Jihad.

-Woods scored three defensive touchdowns this past season, including  an 86-yard INT return and two fumbles returned for scores.

-Woods was named first-team All-CIF San Diego Section, All-East County and All-Grossmont Hills his senior year. He posted 58 tackles with 5 ½ sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

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