Football's Morgan Woodward Taking Advantage of Chances


by - Correspondent -
    |

Major college football usually tramples the Morgan Woodwards of
the world.
It throws walk-ons at defensive linemen like meat to the lions.

Normally at this stage of their career, walk-ons like Woodward would be
tired of getting beat up at practice, eating at the regular dining hall at
night and then watching the games from the stands trying to convince some
sorority girl that he really is on the team, sort of.

Woodward, who played linebacker and fullback at South Florence, is a
reserve tight end for Clemson. He's running down The Hill, something he's
wanted to do since he was four years old. Better still, he's played in every
game this year at tight end and not just in the last few plays in a mop-up
role.

"Morgan is a big inspiration," said Justin Watts, a wide receiver for
Clemson who graduated a year before Woodward from South Florence. "You see a
guy come in that's not tall enough, not big enough, not fast enough. And yet
when the game is on the line and the ball is on the two yard line, he's one
of the guys that the coaches trust to put in there."

In the third quarter of Clemson's second game of the year against
Virginia, Woodward was in the game as the tight end on the right side of the
line. Travis Zachery was supposed to run the ball around the left end.

Quarterback Brandon Streeter changed the play at the line to run to the
right side behind Woodward.
"I looked up and I wasn't really sure what to do," said Woodward. "The
defense was in a nine-technique, so I knew who to block there. The guy was
about 6-4 and outweighed me by about 40 pounds, though. I just took my steps
like coach (Brad) Scott said. I stood him up and (Zachery) ran around the
outside."

Scott, who's had Woodward on the special teams all year, wasn't worried
when he saw Streeter changing the play.

"With some players I wonder if they're going to get the check," he said.
"A missed assignment is worse than a player that can't complete the block.
He did a good job."

Good enough to get noticed by Clemson coach Tommy Bowden on his highlight
show. "Coach Bowden said he didn't know why we were running the play behind
a 5-8, 185-pound player," said Woodward. "I told him, 'Coach, I am six feet
tall and 200 pounds'. He just laughed."

It was the change in coaching staffs that might have given Woodward his
big break.

"In spring practice Morgan was a guy that, although he was undersized
for the position, he gave great effort," said Scott. "He was a guy that made
plays. He caught the ball when we threw it to him. He was always down the
field hustling. His motor ran hard all the time. I told him if he continued
to work hard, we were going to find a way to work him into the offense and
find a way to get him some playing time."

Woodward also worked his way onto the kickoff return team. He stands on
the front line of the return and signals which way the return will go. "I
wanted to put somebody there that I knew was going to be dependable," said
Scott. "He comes in during the week early to study tapes of the other team's
kickoffs. He's very good at making game day adjustments if they show
something different."

If Woodward needed something else to do, he was put on the kickoff
coverage team for the Florida State game.

"The coaches just gave me chances," he said. "I took advantage of them.
I try hard every time. If I take a play off, I'm going to get killed or get
hurt."

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