ASU running back Woods looking for opportunity - East Valley Tribune: Sports

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ASU running back Woods looking for opportunity

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Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2008 9:28 pm

He is perhaps the forgotten contestant in Arizona State's depth-chart jockeying at running back.

And that is fitting, considering that Jarrell Woods was missing in action for much of last season, sidelined with an ankle injury until finally getting on the field in the Holiday Bowl.

With top rushers Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance back, Shawn DeWitty returning from a redshirt year and hotshot freshman Ryan Bass showing off his athleticism, Woods has been working in relative anonymity.

"That's fine," said Woods, a junior. "I'm getting an opportunity from the coaches, so it's up to me. It doesn't mean anything if I don't get my name in the paper. As long as I do what I know what I am capable of and make the most of my situation, I'll play a lot. And I know what I'm capable of doing."

Woods believes he flashed those talents - albeit briefly - in the Holiday Bowl, when he ran three times for 20 yards and a touchdown during garbage time in ASU's loss against Texas. The 5-foot-10, 212-pounder feels that he has the power and speed necessary to be a regular back.

On Sunday, ASU coach Dennis Erickson said that DeWitty could be the main ball carrier in short-yardage situations. But DeWitty is sidelined due to a sore hamstring, so Woods, Nance and Bass are getting opportunities.

"As we go into practice more, somebody might emerge as the guy," Erickson said. "The other aspect, besides being a powerful runner, is taking care of the football. That's what we're looking for."


Erickson praised the players for their sharpness in early practices, but he likes to say that how a team looks in its seventh or eighth workout is a better training-camp barometer.

Sunday - with the newness worn off, two-a-days having begun and the heat a factor, even in the morning - ASU was sluggish.

"Our intensity wasn't there," Erickson said. "We weren't there mentally, either. Freshmen are going to make mental mistakes, but we made too many with our veterans. I was not pleased. We have to get better."


At this time last season, junior-college transfer Morris Wooten was in the process of becoming ASU's starting middle linebacker. During recent practices, he has been working with the third team.

Wooten started eight games last year. He injured a thumb in October, lost playing time to Mike Nixon and was suspended from the Holiday Bowl for an unspecified rules violation.

"Morris has to earn his position," Erickson said. "He didn't play in the bowl game, so he has to come back and earn his position. He flat-out got his (butt) beat out. He didn't fall out of favor."


Defensive lineman Luis Vasquez returned to full participation a day after spraining his right knee. Herring (shoulder) was still limited, and receiver Brandon Smith (hamstring) remained out.... Erickson said Thomas Weber has been the best punter of the three - Zach Richards and Trevor Hankins are the others - in camp. ... Wide receiver Kyle Williams is currently atop the depth chart at punt returner.... Williams is currently atop the depth chart at punt returner.... The Sun Devils practice twice today, with the second workout indoors.

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