Rod Woodson: Boilin' Over At Purdue

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IOctober 30, 2009

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 8: Rod Woodson and presenter Tracy Foster unveil the bust of Woodson at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the 2009 enshrinement ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on August 8, 2009 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

As a kid growing up with his mother and father in Indiana, Rod Woodson attended R. Nelson Snider High School and played three different sports: football, basketball, and track.

As a football player, he was essentially a utility man playing defensive back, kick returner, and a variety of offensive skill positions including running back and wide receiver. He achieved All-State honors in both his junior and senior seasons.

As a  track star, he won the state tournament and a total of four state titles in his junior and senior seasons for the high and low hurdles.

As a basketball player, Woodson was an All-Conference player his senior season.

We all know that Woodson had what is considered a Hall of Fame career as a professional football player and we’ll get into that in the next article. But how was the man in college?

He was so good in high school in Fort Wayne, Ind. that the Purdue Boilermakers offered him a full scholarship, which he gladly accepted to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

While playing at Purdue, the man was quite simply an athletic monster, playing not only football for the Boilermakers but also running track.

He was such a good runner that he actually qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics as a 19-year-old hurdler in the 100m event. In fact ,Purdue basketball coach and former Pittsburgh Steelers  quarterback (drafted in 1958) said that Woodson could have played varsity basketball for the school as well as running track and playing football. Instead of going through with his Olympic opportunity, he chose to pursue his football career.

That’s how amazing an athlete he was.

During four years of football for the Boilermakers, he started 44 games, however he won only 18 of them. That was by no means his fault as he was essentially a one man team. This included returning both punts and kicks, playing defensive back, and starting as wide receiver in his final game. 

The saving grace about his 18-26 record?

He won his final game in a Purdue uniform.

What makes that victory sweeter is that it was against rival Indiana and Woodson had a combined 150 yards from scrimmage between running the ball and catching it. Along with that, he had 10 tackles and forced a fumble.

Along with his football accomplishmentswhich included being an All-American defensive back in 1985 and 1986, a three time All-Big Ten First Team selection, and tying the record for the most interceptions in school history with 11he also achieved All-America honors for track and field twice on his way to winning five Big Ten titles in two events.

When he graduated from the university, he held or tied a total of 13 school records in football and two in track and field.

His NFL Combine numbers may not "wow" you, but you must take into consideration that this was in 1987. Woodson didn’t prepare for the ultimate job interview for months.

His numbers:
40 Yard Dash: 4.31 and 4.33 seconds
Broad Jump: 10 feet, five inches
Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Short Shuttle: 3.98 seconds
Bench Press: 10 repetitions

Prior to the draft, legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry said that if Woodson had foregone running track and played spring football that he would have stepped into a starting spot in the NFL as a rookie.

In 1987, he graduated from Purdue with a  criminal justice degree and was drafted in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 10th overall draft pick.

The man is obviously a freakish athlete and absolutely lit up the college scene.

Gee, I wonder how he did in the pros?

We’ll just have to wait until next time to see.


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