BY DENNIS SILVA II | DENSILVA2@GMAIL.COM
The first four plays on Taylor senior safety Trevor Woods’ recruiting highlight tape are interceptions. All returned for touchdowns. All from one season.
“And a couple at key points, too,” Taylor coach Chad Simmons gushed over Woods’ heroics last season. “Real key points. Three in the playoffs. Like, what? Say what? You look at that tape and they’re the first four plays and you’re like, ‘Dang!’”
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Woods plays the “rover” in the Mustangs’ 4-2-5 defensive scheme. It’s basically the strong safety. For some other teams, it’s the nickelback. For Taylor, it’s its best tackler.
Simmons schemes his defense to “bounce the ball” toward Woods, allowing him to do what he does best—make plays and get it back for the offense. Last season, Woods did just that, compiling 165 total tackles with eight sacks, five interceptions, five fumbles caused and a fumble recovery for the Class 6A Division II state semifinalist Mustangs.
A three-star recruit, Woods holds 21 offers, many of which came after last season as coaches started getting wind of a defensive back from Katy with a knack for creating takeaways.
“A lot of credit has to be given to my team and coaches,” Woods said. “We have a great scheme that puts me in great position to make the plays. A lot of our defense is spilling the ball to me, and a lot of it is I’m the extra guy that’s not blocked. Our guys do a great job of forcing a guy to block them, or they get off that block and there’s two guys blocking them. It just helps a lot. We go very in-depth with our scouting reports thanks to Coach Simmons, and a lot of times I know what another team is running before they line up. It’s great. The coaching staff does a great job working strengths.”
It’s worked for the Mustangs, and it’s paid off for Woods, who parlayed his terrific junior season into a verbal commitment to the University of Colorado, a Pac-12 program.
Woods picked Colorado over Rice and Pittsburgh. Louisiana Tech and UTSA were also hot on his trail. With in-person visits by coaches and recruits being prohibited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Woods was not able to visit Pitt or attend camps or 7-on-7 tournaments, all things that help get a player recognized.
But he is confident he ended up in a “great place” at a school that is 45 minutes away from his cousin and a coaching staff that quickly endeared itself.
“The biggest thing was they recruited me so hard,” Woods said. “I built a great relationship with a lot of their coaches, specifically Coach (Brett) Maxie, who’s their DB coach, and the head coach, Coach (Karl) Dorrell, would call me once a week. I did a virtual tour and they have amazing facilities. It’s a great campus.
“But what really set it for me is I actually went to Colorado about three weeks ago, because I have family in the area, so we drove up to it and it was just awesome. We walked around the campus. It’s an amazing area. Coming back from there, I put some thought into it, but I knew I wanted to go to Colorado.”
Woods is a multi-sport athlete. Aside from football, he is a terrific baseball player. He was also a solid basketball player before giving up the sport as a junior to focus on football and baseball.
On the diamond, Woods hit .514 with six doubles and 16 RBIs last season before it was canceled because of the novel coronavirus. At times, he entertained the idea of playing both football and baseball in college. But football, his first true love, won out.
His father Ryan was a former linebacker at Rice, and Woods found it easier to attract attention for a full scholarship for football. With the exception of some positions, he said, baseball awards mostly partial scholarships.
“There were some schools that said I could try out for baseball and I even talked to some of the baseball coaches, but ultimately I realized how much work that would be,” Woods said. “It hits you with all the school you’d be doing and all the practices.”
Simmons calls Woods “special.” There’s little he can’t do. He even played a bit at receiver last year for Taylor, with 99 yards and a touchdown on four catches, earning some impressive national recognition in the process. (Check out the :56 second mark).
But Woods’ true value lies on defense. Simmons can line him up anywhere on the field and know he’ll make a play. Most teams want their ballcarrier to get one-on-one with a safety in the open field. Easy pickings, right?
Not with Taylor.
“With a kid like Trevor, you say, “OK, you’ll make the ball bounce outside’ and now that running back’s got to beat him,” Simmons said.
Woods plays the most diverse position on the Mustangs’ defense, an outside linebacker type that plays as a pass rusher off the edge or drops back and plays deep in some formations.
Simmons said the ball is lined up on a hash “80 percent of the time” in a game. So, he will scheme the Mustangs’ defense to where Woods is lined up on the wide side of the field. If teams run/throw the ball away from him, which is often, then they’re playing to the short side of the field.
“When I talk to my offensive coaches about how we think opponents will attack us, the consensus is, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re going to check everything away from (Woods),’” Simmons said. “So, yeah, it’s designed to funnel it (the ball) to him.”
Woods will study business at Colorado and is excited about the accounting class he will be taking at Taylor this year. Now that he’s found a future home, he can focus on winning.
“I want to make it to state and win state,” he said. “The personal stats are great, and obviously I want to get better in all those, but my main focus is I want to win state. Not many teams get a chance to say they did that. That run we had last year wasn’t some fluke. We realized what we can do, we have a lot of guys returning and I think we can do something special.”