Woodyard Breaks Out

Woodyard Breaks Out

It has been quite a journey for redshirt freshman Jamal Woodyard, and he is now making the most of the opportunity he has been given. The running back talks about the keys to his early success and the upcoming Virginia game in a post practice interview with GoldenEaglePride.com.

Woodyard was unsure about the path his career was about to take.

A broken ankle during his senior season in high school slowed recruiting considerably for the Fairhope, AL High School alum. Considered one of the top running backs in the state of Alabama, Woodyard saw many offers taken off the table.

One team, however, stood by him, and continued to pursue him right up to signing day. Looking back, both Woodyard and Southern Miss are both glad they stayed with him.

With an injury to Desmond Johnson in week one, an oppotunity has opened up for Woodyard to carry a major load for the Golden Eagle offense. It is an opportunity he is not going to take for granted.

"I didn't get to finish my senior season in high school, and then I came in and redshirted my first year at Southern Miss," he said. "Now I finally have that opportunity to show everyone what I have, and I am going to work hard, give it my all, and try to make a name for myself."

He is doing just that.

In 3 games he has rushed for 159 yards on 26 carries including a touchdown. He says the key to this offense getting on track will be continuing to establish the running game early.

"First off we just have to run the ball well, and if we can get our running game going, it will open up the passing game," he said. "Kendrick and I have to get going and run the ball well, and I think we'll be fine on offense this season."

His redshirt year gave him an opportunity to learn the offense and gain a year of experience learning behind some talented backs.

"My redshirt year helped me out a lot," he said. "I got bigger, faster, and stronger. If I would have tried to play my freshman year, I would not be doing as good as I am now.

"I think it just really helped me out a lot."

Many have compared Woodyard to a bit of a combination between current Eagles Desmond Johnson, with blazing speed, and Kendrick Hardy, more of a power runner.

"I think I am more of a shifty back, but if I have to run someone over, I can do that," he said. "I like to get out in open space and make some moves to get down the field, but I am always trying to make the first guy miss and go score."

Woodyard and his teammates know a great challenge lies ahead in going on the road against an ACC opponent.

"Well the first thing I noticed about them was that everyone is big, especially their front seven," he said. "Another thing is I think every game they have played in, every team has rushed for 200 yards against them.

"If our offensive line can get a good push and open some holes, we have a chance to run the ball on these guys on Saturday."

Make no mistake about it, Woodyard will step up to the challenge.

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