July 15, 2007

Key Cowboys: #20 Donovan Woods

A huge number of factors go into the success of any football team, but mostly it comes down to players. In this series, we will be examining 25 of them in a reverse-order look at the players most crucial to the success of the 2007 Oklahoma State season.

This is not, however, a list of the best players on the team. Rather, this series takes into consideration the importance of a given position on the team, depth issues, experience and inexperience, and the historic strengths and weaknesses of Mike Gundy's program. The results, therefore, may surprise many readers, and will hopefully spur spirited discussion and debate.

Donovan Woods: There might not be a player on the Oklahoma State roster that's more of an enigma that the third of the "Woods brothers".

There are few players on the Cowboy roster who have more God-given ability than the 6-2, 230 pound senior, but Woods' production hasn't matched his potential. Except, of course, when he led OSU to seven wins and an Alamo Bowl appearance as a redshirt freshman quarterback.

Woods' transition to defense hasn't come easy.

He is a natural leader and can read offenses - both traits carried over from his quarterbacking days. What he's lacked in two seasons on defense are instinctive reactions and the desire to initiate contact. Those are both things you'll see in lifelong defensive players.

The hope is that Woods' move to a hybrid linebacker position will make use of his size and free him up to start making more instinctive reactions to what he sees from an offense. It seems like a perfect fit - Woods has linebacker size, but the agility and coverage skills of a converted safety. His experience as a Division I quarterback certainly can translate to linebacker, which is sometimes referred to as the "quarterback of the defense."

Though Woods is fairly soft-spoken, the intensively competitive side of him will likely respond well to the challenging style of coaching new defensive coordinator Tim Beckman will sometimes employ. For the Cowboy defense to make the big jump they want to in 2007, Woods living up to his potential is certainly a key ingredient.

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