NFL draft process a blessing for former Magnolia Michael Woods II

When Michael Woods II arrived at Magnolia High School, he played football, but admitted that basketball was his main sport and the one he thought could open doors for his future.

Around his second season with the Bulldogs under then-head coach Sterling Doty, Woods showed great talent on the football field. In his freshman year, he was a dominant wide receiver with his size and speed. Big college offers started rolling in for the standout receiver after posting more than 1,400 receiving yards as a junior.

“I came into high school as a basketball player,” Woods said in a phone interview last Friday. “Once I quit playing basketball after my second year, football exploded. At this point in life, you talk about going somewhere on a scholarship. That’s what you’re talking about. It’s crazy how it became a reality.

Woods was an SMU commitment when the Mustangs were managed by Chad Morris and Bulldog football fans won’t soon forget that time the ‘Tempocopter’ descended on Bulldog Stadium on a Friday night in 2017 as Morris came watch his future wide receiver live against Tomball.

The script changed a bit in December when Morris became Arkansas’ next head coach and Woods changed his verbal commitment to the Razorbacks and followed Morris and his team to Fayetteville.

Woods went on to have four quality seasons playing for the Power Five schools. He spent three years in Arkansas, graduated, then took a different path to Oklahoma to play for the Sooners last fall.

Next week, Woods hopes to hear his name at the NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

“It was always something you talked about as a kid,” Woods said of the NFL. “People were always asking if you wanted to play in the NFL. As a kid, I really didn’t watch cartoons. I was watching ESPN directly. I knew all the fun facts and trivia and all kinds of things about sports in general.

Woods has worked hard over the past few months for this impending moment. From performing at the NFL Combine, meetings with teams, continuing on-field training locally in the Houston area – including a session with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others receivers last month – the former Bulldog is set for what’s next.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Woods said. “The combine went well. I’ve met more teams there and have just been doing Zoom meetings for the past two months. It’s been a blessing and I’m just happy.

Woods graduated early from Magnolia in December 2017 after signing with Arkansas. During his career with the Bulldogs, Woods had 2,988 yards and 41 touchdowns (along with three rushing scores) in 31 career college games. He caught several of those passes from Jacob Frazier and Reese Mason.

He signed up early, got to work at Arkansas and got a head start on what turned out to be instant game time with the Razorbacks dropping like real freshmen. .

“It’s a totally different thing,” Woods said of high school ball in SEC football. “Mostly because I left early, I got closer to some guys before the season. These first practices, you just notice that the tempo is faster. Even games are faster, the details are much more important. A little more skill level is just higher.

Woods enjoyed getting to know his surroundings, playing in SEC country, AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Texas A&M and playing in the exhibition games on CBS Saturday afternoon.

“It’s just surreal,” Woods said. “You just walked into the stadium and it’s like ‘I’m really on the pitch! “Going to Bama, going to LSU, going to Auburn and all these great places you hear about, it’s just surreal.

Arkansas struggled as a whole in its three years there with just seven wins to 27 losses.

But individually, Woods was coming as he had 1,248 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns with the Razorbacks in three years. He posted a career-high 619 yards in the COVID 2020 season where the Razorbacks were still able to play 10 games despite some NCAA programs barely playing a few contests.

Woods graduated last May from Arkansas with a degree in sports management. With two years of eligibility remaining, he made the difficult decision to leave Fayetteville, a town that felt like home during those three years there.

Woods bet on himself and traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to play for the Sooners and see what life was like in the Big 12.

“It was the toughest call I’ve had in my life, really,” Woods said. “It was ‘stay comfortable’ or ‘take your chance and believe in yourself’. For me, it was like becoming a man and really taking control of my destiny. I was there for three years, I knew everyone there. It felt like home. I called Arkansas home and graduated there. Being so close to the fans and the fans are so close to the he football team – that’s all they have is the Razorbacks – it was definitely a tough decision.

“But I’m glad I made it and I would do it again. It was a turning point for me as a man growing up.

Woods played in Oklahoma last fall with mixed results. He missed time through injury and had 400 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

“I didn’t have the success I wanted and missed two games through injury,” Woods said. “The bowl game was going to be my decider for me. And I really didn’t go crazy in bowling.

Oklahoma played in the Alamo Bowl — a 47-32 win over Oregon — where it caught three passes for 19 yards.

Prior to the Alamo Bowl, Woods received an invite to the Hula Bowl, but declined as the deadline for that showcase was Dec. 15 and Woods was still unsure about his future with the Alamo Bowl looming later. this month.

In January, Woods was offered a spot in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and jumped at the chance. He did well in front of NFL scouts on the first day of practice. But a hamstring adjustment took him off the court the rest of the week and he didn’t play in the game.

Woods met about 20 NFL teams there and later received an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. It was a huge breakthrough for his future.

“Really, when it was finally established that it was real was when I got that combo invite,” Woods said. “I did the combine and just the reaction after the combine. That’s when it really got real.

Woods posted a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash and was praised for his road running and ability to catch passes.

At 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds, Woods thinks he has a lot to offer an NFL team.

“As a team player, I’m going to have to play on special teams,” Woods said. “I feel like that’s where it all really starts for me, because it shows the coaching staff, the other players and the veterans that I’m invested. I’m going to do the dirty work first. In as a wide receiver I want to contribute and I think I can. Size and speed, ball skills and I’m good enough to pick up practice points and pick up a playbook.”

Woods mentioned that he already had a lot of friends and mentors in the league who also helped him prepare.

Woods and his family and closest friends rented a waterfront Airbnb for the three days of the NFL Draft. Woods is not thrown on many select boards in the first two days – Thursday and Friday – which includes the first three rounds. draft analyst Lance Zierlein posted this on Woods’ draft profile:

“Transferred from Arkansas with just one season in Lincoln Riley’s passing game. Woods is a tight-hipped receiver with below-average curvature that affects his route and keeps his work on a vertical plane. He has speed decently built and showed improved hands in 2021, but is unlikely to ever be considered a catch winner Woods has a chance to compete for a spot on the practice squad, but lacks traits who stand out for the position.

Among Woods’ strengths, Zierlein listed his physique, arm length, a clean road runner and effectively disguises pending road breaks. Weaknesses included elusiveness in the face of media coverage, long and linear legs with tight hips, and a single-speed runner.

“I see day 3,” Woods said. “That was the common synopsis. There’s a chance I could go on day 2, but it was mostly day 3. I’m just ready to take any opportunity. It doesn’t matter where you go or what number you are in the draft. Just to hear my name called, just to have my phone ring, I’ll be blessed with that.

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