Check the FBS statistical rankings, and you’ll see David Woodward’s name appear near the top of many charts. His 55 total tackles through week five of the season are good for fourth-best in the nation. His average of 8.0 solo tackles per game is good for second-best, behind only two-time Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week Evan Weaver (Cal). But it’s his four forced fumbles that put him in the lead amongst all defenders. A hard-hitter himself, Ronnie Lott wanted to know where that desire to play hard came from for the Utah State Aggie.
While the linebacker tipped his hat to watching players like Lott over the years, he also shared a feeling of being indebted to those who’ve helped him along the way as his motivation. “Playing for everyone who’s helped me my whole life, helped me get to where I am, and just trying to make people proud,” Woodward said.
Lott asked Woodward to share who some of those individuals were. He cited constant support from what he described as a small family – his parents, siblings, and his grandmother. Woodward also named a former coach, Kevin Gunther, who “had a big impact on me, helping me learn about football and coaching me up when I was a little kid.”
Not unlike last week’s co-winner Joe Bachie (Michigan State), Woodward also credited lifelong film study to his success.”I’ve been playing since first grade and my whole life, since I was a kid, [I’ve been] watching a ton of football. Always watching highlights on YouTube,” Woodward remarked.
Lott told Woodward that he is amazed by the commitment past winners of the Lott IMPACT Trophy have made to help others, and wanted to know the Aggie’s feelings towards community service.
“My dad has always told me, ‘Once you get some success, or when you’re getting success, always give back to those people and the place that you came from,” Woodward said. “When I was in high school, some of the older kids who had some success, went to college, would come back and talk to us.” He expressed a commitment to remembering what that meant to him as a younger athlete and “trying to keep that legacy going.”
The redshirt sophomore then continued painting a picture of what he hoped his future looked like.
“Trying to improve the best I can this year, and in the future in college, and hopefully get[ting] drafted in the NFL,” he said. “If I get the opportunity to have that success, and that financial success, then being able to give back to my high school and all those kids who grew up where I’m from and try[ing] to help them out and give them some good opportunities like I’ve had.”
“If you get that done, I can’t wait, because that’s going to be a heck of a moment for you and your family,” Lott replied.
On a lighter note, Lott questioned Woodward on what the Hall of Famer calls a ‘Woo!’ moment. “Everybody has a ‘Woo!’ moment,” Lott explained. “And a ‘Woo!’ moment is when the crowd just goes, ‘Woo, I can’t believe [it]!’…Talk to me about your best ‘Woo!’ moment.”
“That would be last year at North Texas in the bowl game,” Woodward recalled. “The receiver was coming on a drag route. I came up, hit him, and then he bounced off the ground and the ball bounced off his chest and I picked it…Definitely you heard the crowd do that, and my teammates [told] me when I came to the sideline [that] they got chills watching that moment.”
Woodward will chase another ‘Woo!’ moment this weekend as the Aggies head down to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 5 LSU Tigers at 9:00am PST.
Press play to listen to the full conversation between Ronnie Lott and David Woodward.