Darren Woodard, a 6'1 185 pound defensive back from Kilgore JC signed today with the UTEP Miners football team. With the Miners losing three and possibly four commitments in the last six weeks, UTEP's recruiting focus clearly turned to the JUCO pipeline as the Miners have now officially added four JC transfers for the 2011 season. Woodard joins MLB Josh Fely, OG James Robinson, and WLB A.J. Ropati as the fourth UTEP signee.
While many programs prefer to stay away from JC's, Mike Price has had success with JUCO transfers. Last season, Trevaun Nixon became a starter at cornerback and ended up second team All Conference USA. Watching highlights of Woodard, I can't help but be reminded of Nixon. He's a ball hawk, he closes fast, and he looks like he likes contact. The only difference is that he looks to be a bit taller than Nixon. Here are some highlights of Woodard.
Per UTEP's official release:
The 5-11, 170-pound Woodard was a first team All-Conference choice at Kilgore College, accumulating 10 pass break-ups and three interceptions this season. He spent his prep career at Brazosport High School in Freeport, Texas, averaging 10 tackles per game as a senior.
Hopefully, Woodard can have a Nixon like breakout season in 2011. Antwon Blake often struggled in man-to- man coverage. Blake will be a senior next season, but I'd still expect Woodard to challenge Blake for his starting job in 2011. Blake may be a better fit at nickel back. Regardless of what happens in spring, UTEP's defensive backfield is better today than it was yesterday.