Who Is Morgan Woodward? A Hero To Rich Rodriguez


by - Correspondent -
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Reserve Clemson tight end and former South Florence player Morgan Woodward did something Saturday that Todd McClinton may never do - score a touchdown for Clemson.

Now, Clemson's coaching staff would love for McClinton, one of the most highly recruited tight ends from last year's high school class, to get his SAT problems behind him and report to Clemson. In the mean time, Woodward's 36-yard scamper down the right sideline after catching a pass from quarterback Woody Dantzler at Death Valley gave Clemson's coaching staff plenty of motivational material.

Woodward, a player that never played tight end in high school and grins a lot more than most college athletes, stepped straight into the role of "Rudy" Saturday against The Citadel.

"Watch Morgan Woodward - that's how you're supposed to play the game," said Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez outside the lockerroom after the game and within earshot of Woodward, who was facing the lights of the television cameras for the first time in his career.

Rodriguez didn't worry about his statements going to Woodward's head.

"He practices so hard and he's got a lot of fight in him, and that's an example for all of us. He's not the biggest and he's not the strongest, but he's is probably, today, one of the most productive receivers out there. That's a lesson for all of our guys that think they've arrived."

Somehow, you get the feeling that Saturday's box score isn't the only clipping Woodward's parents will accumulate.

Woodward, who is 6 feet tall and 212 pounds, has traveled the hard road of a walk-on, but his rise through the ranks has been steady and there's no reason to think that it will stop. He didn't see any playing time during his first two years in the program. Last year he was on special teams and played tight end during short-yardage situations.

Tight end coach Brad Scott grabbed Woodward before he went in Saturday on a fourth-and-3 play late in the first half and told him that he would likely be open.

"It was a naked sweep," said Woodward. "I had to block and then go. It was a nice play for Woody. He held the ball long enough for me to get open."
Woodward's coach at South Florence Mike Watts was in the stands near where the play took place.

"I told my wife before the play that I though they weren't going to run the ball," said Watts. "They were going to throw it or something and I saw them fake that sweep and I was watching Matt Bailey, another wideout, when my wife started hollering. Then I saw Morgan coming across the field."

Woodward played fullback and linebacker for Watts. "There's not a harder worker anywhere," he said. "He did everything we asked of him. He was a player. He didn't get any offers from the big schools, but he wanted to go to Clemson. He went to Clemson as an invited walk-on. The only thing that stops him is his size. At the position he's playing, there are not many the size of Morgan Woodward out there. But he does everything right."

Woodward caught the ball a few yards downfield from the line of scrimmage and waited for blocks from Jason LeMay and Travis Zachery. Woodward then broke a tackle before reaching the endzone. "I hit the guy with my helmet," he said. "For some reason my helmet was about to fall off. I just took off for the endzone."

Woodward won't be a bit disappointed if McClinton shows up and cuts into his playing time. "Have you seen Todd?" asked Woodward. "He's like six-seven and 265. He's going to be really good. I hope he gets up here."

For now, though, the Clemson coaches are left wanting more players with a heart the size of Woodward's.

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