August 24, 2007

Not anything he can't play

When asked who he thought would be a good actor to play himself in a movie, this Oklahoma State defender quickly said: "Denzel Washington."

And why is that?

"There's not anything Denzel can't play."

And - upon further reflection - Denzel Washington would be a solid choice to play Donovan Woods in a movie. Because like the two-time Academy Award-winner, there's nothing Woods can't play.

During his time at Oklahoma State, the youngest of the Woods brothers has traveled around positions on the football team more than an NBA all-stars travel on the hardwood without getting whistled. Recruited as a quarterback out of Millwood High School in Oklahoma City, he passed for 1,628 yards and 13 touchdowns and helped get the Cowboys to the Alamo Bowl. Then, in 2005, he started out the season at QB, only to get shifted to defense in favor of Bobby Reid. Thus began his transition to safety, where he experienced growing pains, before getting more comfortable in the defensive backfield in 2006, collecting 62 tackles and two interceptions.

And in 2007, the Donovan Woods road show makes a stop at… linebacker. After a season and a half in the backfield, Woods is moving up to the middle of the D this year, which seems to be a better fit for his 6-2, 230-pound frame.

Does he agree with the move?

"Yes I do," said Woods, who seems pretty quiet and soft-spoken. He believes moving to the position created for him this season - which is a linebacker who will sometimes drop back into coverage - combines his talents.

"I feel good about it," Woods said. "I feel like it's going to give me an opportunity to make more plays. I'm happy about that."

While he might seem quiet on the surface, his internal makeup is different. So much so, it can only be billed as… intense.

"I can't even give you my mindset," he said. "I can't even have you print that."

But that's not surprising, either, as little brothers the world over typically feel like they have to fight harder for attention and respect. And, in his case, when a couple of your older brothers are named Rashaun and D'Juan - and oh by the way, they had pretty impressive careers at OSU - there's a lot to live up to.

"A lot of expectations," he said. "A lot of people saying - I guess it's not always positive when they're talking about you in comparison to your brothers. It's a little bit unfair, but life isn't fair, so that's just one of the things you chalk up to that."

So while he's had the burden of carrying a famous last name on the back of his jersey, that hasn't made him wilt under the pressure any. How many players out there could be versatile enough to switch between quarterback, safety and now linebacker? He says the leadership abilities he learned while under center have helped him become a factor on the other side of the ball.

"Since I've moved to defense, that's just something I'll bring to the table, whether it's on offense or defense," he said. "I'm just out there trying to play and whatever I can do to help us - whether it be leading or following, I'm just going to try and do for the team."

If OSU is to have a big season, improvement on the defensive side is vital. And in the linebacker corps., Woods likes what he sees. Especially the speed.

"I think we're going to be fast," Woods said. "Patrick Lavine is 220-225 pounds. Chris Collins is around 235-240 and he's going to move just as fast as any of us. So we have a lot of talent at linebacker and I'm looking forward to seeing how well we play this year."

And while there's still one act left to view of Woods' story at OSU, the senior is cherishing every moment. Especially something that would seem easily overlooked - running out onto the Boone Pickens Stadium turf.

"It's one the biggest adrenaline rushes you can ever have, just to run out there on the field," he said. "It's electric. I look forward to doing it every time."

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