|DRAFT 2008: Woodhead confident he'll get NFL shot|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 18 April 2008 01:06|
Forget that Woodhead is the all-time, all-division rushing leader in the college game, with 7,962 yards in four seasons for Division II Chadron State in western Nebraska.
What it comes down to for Woodhead are these numbers: 5-7 1/2.
That's his height. His size kept him out of the major college ranks, and it might keep him out of next week's NFL draft.
NFL personnel men have told Woodhead's agent Chris Gittings that they will pass on the two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner because he doesn't measure up physically. But Gittings said the general manager who does take a chance on Woodhead as a draft pick or free agent will be glad he did.
``His whole life people have been saying, 'You're too short, you're too light.' He just goes out, performs and proves them wrong,'' said Gittings.
Woodhead wasn't invited to February's scouting combine. But he raised eyebrows at his pro day in Lincoln, running the 40-yard dash anywhere from 4.33 to 4.38 seconds, recording a vertical jump of 38 1/2 inches and bench-pressing 225 pounds 20 times.
Woodhead has been working out in his hometown of North Platte in the weeks leading to the draft. He said he has gained 5 pounds to hit 200 ``or more, depending on the time of day.''
He said two or three NFL teams have interviewed him by phone, but none has asked him to do an individual workout.
``I'm not worried,'' he said. ``I've been passed up enough times. This is not something really new to me. I think I know how to handle it pretty well. All you need is one chance. I'm confident I'll get that chance.''
Gittings said it's frustrating that other small running backs are considered draft prospects, but Woodhead is on the fringe.
The agent points out that Rutgers' Ray Rice is 5-foot-8 and 199 pounds. Rice ran a 4.42 in the 40 and had a vertical leap of 31 1/2 inches at the combine - short of Woodhead's numbers at his pro day.
Michigan's Mike Hart is just under 5-9 and 206; Georgia's Thomas Brown is 5-9 and 204; California's Justin Forsett is 5-8 and 194; and Houston's Anthony Alridge is 5-9 and 170.
Of course, those running backs competed against the big football schools. Woodhead rolled up his statistics mostly against the likes of New Mexico Highlands and Mesa State in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, which allows programs to fund football for only 28 scholarships, eight under the Division II limit.
``What people usually ask is, 'How many yards would Danny have run for in Division I?''' Gittings said. ``I say, 'Would (Arkansas Heisman Trophy finalist) Darren McFadden have run for 500 yards a game in Division II? No. Would he have run for 300 a game? Probably not. How about 200? I don't know.
``The bottom line is that Danny put up incredible numbers at the level he was at.''
Woodhead said he wouldn't have developed into the player he became if he had come in a different package.
``I'm pretty happy with how I am,'' he said. ``Honestly, I wouldn't want another inch. That would change the way I play. I like hiding behind guys, and I use that to my advantage.''
Pro football people aren't the only ones who knock Woodhead's size. He couldn't even land a scholarship offer from his beloved home state school after he set records in Nebraska's large-division high school ranks. Former Cornhuskers coach Frank Solich, an undersized fullback when he played for the Huskers in the 1960s, didn't think Woodhead was big enough.
``I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't hurtful when I didn't get offered a scholarship to Nebraska. At the time, it was,'' Woodhead said. ``There are a lot of people who get passed up. I'm not the only athlete who has. Did I want to go to Nebraska? Of course, I did. That definitely was a dream. There's no reason to hold grudges. A lot of people do. That's just not me.''
Now Woodhead's dream is to get an opportunity in the NFL. He said he is intrigued by the notion of perhaps playing on the wider fields of the CFL or in the fast-paced and gimmicky Arena Football League, but he won't allow himself to even call those ``fallbacks'' right now.
``I'm not out there working hard so I can shut up the doubters,'' Woodhead said. ``I'm out there working hard because I want to keep playing.''