RECRUITING: Cougs knocking on Wood's door

THE COUGS have unearthed some gems from Pasadena City College, including RBs <b>Jonathan Smith</b> and <b>Jerome Harrison</b>. Washington State is looking to PCC again in '05, this time at defensive back <b>Marlon Wood</b>. CF.C talked to the defensive whirlwind, a player who can really run and jump in the back forty and excels on kick returns. Catch him if you can.

Coming to Pullman on a official visit this weekend to Washington State, defensive back and return specialist Marlon Wood. The Cougs have offered the 5'10, 182-pound lightning bolt with the 4.3 forty.

North Carolina currently leads for Wood, son of Richard "Batman" Wood, former All-American linebacker and NFL standout. The younger Wood went on an official visit last weekend to Chapel Hill, coming away impressed -- but without an offer from the Tar Heels.

"They'll let me know in a couple weeks," Wood told "They have players they've been recruiting for a couple years. So I'm just waiting on seeing what they do. My best friend (junior wide receiver Wallace Wright, who served as Wood's host) plays for the team."

Other schools recruiting the defensive back include Arkansas, Illinois and Marshall (visit set for Jan 21).

Just like at UNC, Wood will be bringing a lengthy list of questions on his trip to Pullman -- literally. Wood, looking at a criminal justice major, says he wants to know everything from top to bottom on the academic programs in place at 'Ol Wazzu.

"Just like my dad always told me, bring a list of questions so you can have an answer to them. At North Carolina, I had a list on a big sheet of paper all ready to ask my questions (on the academics) but they took us to a little session and they answered all the questions right then and there... First of all, I'm trying to get my degree so the academic programs are very important."

He's also very interested in checking out the campus, Pullman and the makeup of the student population. North Carolina currently sits atop his list for three reasons -- a good visit, his lifelong friend is on the football team and because his father holds a strong friendship with the Tar Heels coach. But Wood also stressed to CF.C he remains very much open.

"The way the coaches are into it," said Wood, describing what he liked about the UNC staff. "Coach (John) Bunting knows what we're going through because he played college football... and my dad knows him and I met him a while back so its a good deal."

"I'm open for any school. I'm ready to go play. Nothing's holding me back right now, I'm just finishing up school. I'm ready to hit the field."

HITTING THE FOOTBALL FIELD took a couple years. Wood originally accepted a track scholarship coming out high school in Florida before eventually transferring to PCC. He ripped off a 22'7" leap his senior year to take the Florida Relays after only picking up the event four weeks earlier, later finishing 7th in states. He can also run a little bit.

"My first time running the forty was at a junior college combine -- I clocked a 4.3 flat and a 4.35. I average somewhere right around there."

After Wood found his way back to the gridiron, he immediately started making up for lost time.

"I think I had a very, very good season. I didn't play football for two years you know, but I hopped right back into it so I think I did very well."

Wood earned national junior college player of the week honors and was twice named the California JC player of the week. Not bad considering he only played seven games at defensive back, starting out the year at wide receiver for the Lancers.

In those seven games, Wood had 30 tackles, three INTs and 11 pass break-ups. And he simply shines on special teams. On kickoff and punt returns, Wood averaged 40 and 12 yards, respectively. Although the league doesn't recognize returns longer than 100-yards, Wood took a ball seven yards deep and didn't stop until he was in the opposite end zone.

"I broke Jackie Robinson's school record for a return of 107 yards on a missed field goal attempt."

Turns out that was a precursor of things to come and in more ways than one. At the PCC banquet a few nights ago, Wood walked away with the Jackie Robinson MVP award.

Wood is expected to run track for PCC this spring. He'll have three to play 3 at the next level.

Cougfan Top Stories