Advertisement

 STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -Artrell Woods was in the Oklahoma State weight room when his life came crashing down.
With one misstep, the fleet-footed receiver's back had been broken by the force of the 185-pound weight he'd been carrying on his shoulders. In that instant football became an afterthought.
Forget scoring touchdowns. Just taking a few steps would be a major breakthrough for Woods.
Now, a mere 13 1/2 months later, Woods is talking touchdowns again. When the Cowboys open the season against Washington State on Saturday in Seattle, he'll be among Oklahoma State's top receivers.
``It's a miracle,'' said Woods, a sophomore from Bryan, Texas, who teammates know simply as Artie. ``I thank God every single day.''
Woods' weight room mishap, caused when he rolled his ankle, landed him in the hospital with what doctors called a fracture dislocation of vertebrae and an incomplete spinal cord injury. All his teammates knew was that it wasn't good.
``We really didn't know what happened at first. The way he fell, it looked so bad. And then when he was just laying there and he said he couldn't move, everybody was kind of shocked,'' teammate Andre Sexton said. ``You just hope that he's all right. You don't even think about football.''
But soon, Woods did start thinking about it. The first day after his surgery, Woods was able to wiggle his toes. Within weeks, he was up and walking again with a brace supporting his back. Then he gave practice a try.
Woods isn't just going to walk onto the field and wave to the crowd. He fully expects to be a playmaker, like the Cowboys had envisioned him after he had 111 yards receiving in the 2007 spring game - about three months before his injury.
Coach Mike Gundy figures to put Woods on the field for about 30 plays, some as a receiver and some on special teams duty. There'll be no taking it easy on him, even if that was the first instinct for everyone involved after his paralyzing back injury.
New receivers coach Trooper Taylor had Woods wear a green jersey restricting him from contact throughout spring practice, cut down on his repetitions and spared him from routes that would take him across the middle of the field and into harm's way.
Five practices into camp this month, Woods came up to Taylor and told him: ``Coach, you can't baby me. You've got to turn me loose.''
``As a parent, you worry about that because I saw the pictures of what happened to him and what they did to his back and how they fixed it,'' Taylor said. ``It would just be hard for me to pick that phone up and call Mom and say `This is what happened' or call Dad and say, `This is what happened.'''
Reluctantly, Taylor backed off. He started giving Woods slant patterns that could result in crushing blows from linebackers and safeties, and even warned the defense what was coming. After Woods made that first catch and popped up from the tackle, he looked right at Taylor before going back into the huddle.
``My heart stopped beating a 1,000 miles an hour when he got back in there,'' Taylor said.
Woods has been an inspiration to the teammates who saw him crumpled on the weight room floor and then watched him go from the hospital to rehabbing in a pool to learning to run again.
``It's been real tough but I'm hanging in there,'' Woods said.
All that's left now is for Woods to make that first catch, score that first touchdown and complete the journey that he could have easily given up on.
``I don't know who's going to cry first: me or his mom or his dad or him. I really don't want him crying, not as a football player,'' Taylor said. ``But it will be emotional because I know where he's come from.''
For a guy who's faced one of the scariest, life-changing moments imaginable, Woods isn't dwelling on what could have been. He's sounds like any other football player.
``I expect to be a big playmaker like I expected before,'' he said. ``I don't really feel like nothing's changed. I feel like I can make a real big difference.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

NFL Betting News and Notes Week 4 on Tue, Sep 2016 by Blade
2nd half on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961
added play on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961
mon night pro play on Mon, Sep 2016 by Timmy1961

NCAAF Headlines

More inNCAAF News  

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Connecticut vs. Houston Pick The college football weekend gets underway this Thursday night when No. 6 Houston meets up with Connecticut....
Thumbnail Toledo vs. BYU Pick Will BYU be able to hand Toledo its first loss of the season when the two teams meet on Friday at 10:15PM ET?
Thumbnail Updated CFB Championship Odds The college football season continues to see upsets, but many of the favorites to win the College Football Playoffs remain the...
Thumbnail College Football Week 5 Odds Week 5 of the College Football Season features some very big matchups between top-10 teams. Here is a look at...
Thumbnail Arizona tries to contain explosive Washington No. 9 Washington utterly obliterated its first three opponents of the season. Will the good times continue in the desert?
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages