|Chadron State's Woodhead closing in on career rushing mark|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 22 August 2007 09:20|
So the Chadron State senior leaves it to statisticians to add up his rushing numbers, which are approaching unprecedented levels.
Woodhead will go into the season 989 yards from becoming the NCAA's all-division career rushing leader. That's only about one-third of his 2006 total of 2,756, an all-division single-season record.
If Woodhead averages 212 yards a game, as he did last season, he'll break the record by October.
``It's not really something I look at,'' Woodhead said in a phone interview phone before heading out to a practice recently. ``You ask if it's possible. I really don't know. I'm just here playing.''
Last season, Woodhead ran for 200 or more yards eight times and won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II.
Eye-popping yardage could be harder to come by this season, Chadron coach Bill O'Boyle said, because three award-winning starters on the offensive line are gone.
``As an offense, you shake your head at some of the defenses you see, because they're all designed to stop No. 3,'' O'Boyle said. ``It will come down to how well we block. Danny's always going to make people miss. But any great running back needs to have people up front getting in front of people.''
Spurned by Division I programs because of his size - he was 5-foot-8 and about 175 pounds as a freshman - Woodhead is drawing attention from the NFL. Scouts from the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have visited Chadron the past few days, and more are coming, O'Boyle said.
Woodhead, who now weighs 200 pounds, projects as a kick or punt returner, and he could find work catching passes out of the backfield if a pro team takes a chance on him, O'Boyle said.
``The thing people overlook on Danny are the intangibles, like his leg drive, the way he moves, how fluid he is when he cuts,'' O'Boyle said. ``The big knock on him coming out of high school was that he wasn't very durable. That's the complete opposite of what we've seen.''
Woodhead averaged 26 carries last season and has been mostly injury-free, other than a sore back a year ago.
``I've had a lot of carries, but this is honestly the most fresh and best I've ever felt coming into a season,'' Woodhead said. ``I think it's partly from what I've done in the summer, just working out and running.''
Woodhead ran for 4,891 yards for North Platte High School, setting the career record in Nebraska's largest division.
He was nothing special in his first college game, going for 28 yards on nine carries against Minnesota-Duluth.
The next week, against Adams State (Colo.), he went for 101.
The next week, 306 against Bemidji State (Minn.) for the first of his four 300-yard games in his career.
And now Woodhead is within range of the all-division career record of 7,353, set by R.J. Bowers of Division III Grove City (Pa.) College from 1997-2000.
``It's huge for anyone who has ever been part of Chadron State,'' O'Boyle said. ``We're getting a lot of publicity because of it. We're keeping it in perspective. We're a team. Danny is the first guy to bring that up.''
Woodhead has led Chadron State to a three-year record of 23-10. That includes a 12-1 mark last season, which saw the Eagles reach the Division II quarterfinals for the first time. Chadron lost to Northwest Missouri State, with Woodhead held to a career-low 16 yards.
He said he would have been happy with 16 yards if the Eagles had won.
``I remember playing a lot of soccer when I was younger, and maybe I would score a couple goals but we would lose. I was always angry,'' he said. ``I've never been happy with what I've done individually. People see the wins and losses. That's what is important, and that's what people remember.''