ESPN 300 defensive lineman Jay Woods (Jackson, Ga./Jackson) saw his recruitment explode during the spring, with more than 25 schools extending scholarship offers. The four-star prospect has since talked it over with his family and his high school coaches and decided it was time to narrow things down. Here, Woods breaks down the lucky finalists:
Kentucky: “When I went up for a visit during the spring in April, I felt like I already knew Coach Turner well. He talked about where I would fit in if I went there. There was a great vibe around Lexington. Their defensive line coach sends me a written letter, like, every day, so that is one of the reasons they made my top six. I would have to say they are recruiting me the hardest.”
Missouri: “When I went up there for a visit for their spring game, all of their coaches showed me around. Coach [Gary] Pinkel really knew what he was talking about and he has been there for a long time, as has most of the staff. The campus was very nice, even though it was a rainy day. Coach [Craig] Kuligowski was telling about how they practice, and I liked what he had to say.”
Clemson: “When I went up for a visit June 28, Coach [Dan] Brooks sat me down and told me where I would fit in if I came there. He said I would be a three-technique in their system. One thing I really wanted to take a look at there was the academic side, and I went to Vickery Hall and talked to the academic adviser. They told me how you get one-on-one assistance. ... They put a lot of defensive linemen in the NFL.”
Vanderbilt: “The first thing that caught my eye when I was on my way to Vanderbilt was Nashville itself. It was a big city and I was astounded by the scenery. Then you had Vanderbilt, which was like a city that separates itself within Nashville. When I pulled up, the entire coaching staff was outside lined up to take me around. I was a little overwhelmed to see Coach [James] Franklin and the entire staff showed me around. That showed me how much they wanted me and made me feel like a big time prospect. Academic-wise, they are top notch, so that is another plus. On the football side, I feel like they are building tradition at Vanderbilt, and I would not mind being a part of that. I think I could play earliest at Vanderbilt and I think I could fit well in their 4-3 scheme.”
Georgia Tech: “They were one of the first schools to start seriously recruiting me. I have been up there, like, seven times and I just love it there. Coach Speed stays in touch with me every week. Their staff wants to talk about my life more than the football side of it, so it makes me feel like they genuinely care. It is also close by, being, like, 45 minutes from my house, so my mom can come see me anytime. I feel like Coach [Andy] McCollum knows what he is talking about, and he sees me as a nose tackle in their 3-4. I have been with them since the beginning, so I just felt like everything was good enough for them to make my top six.”
Georgia: “Mark Richt offered me on the phone, and that was a big deal for me. Growing up in Georgia, the Georgia Bulldogs was my favorite team growing up, so that was another plus in my book. Ninety percent of people I talk to tell me they want me at the University of Georgia. Coach [Rodney] Garner came up to my spring practice and watched me, so I liked that. I just love the vibe when I am in Athens. I think Coach [Todd] Grantham has a unique defense that none of these other schools have in college football. I feel like Georgia does as good a job as any of my top six at putting guys in the NFL. They have the best program in my major, which is in pharmacy, and I could see myself going to the University of Georgia. That is why they are in my top six.”
Next up for the 6-foot-2, 280-pound lineman is setting up his official and unofficial visits for the fall. Woods does not think he will take all five officials before he makes his decision, and he estimates he will be ready to make his commitment midway through his senior season or shortly after. All schools in his top six are even right now.