When the West Virginia University football team boarded the plane for Morgantown after Saturday’s victory over TCU, a feeling of jubilation filled the plane.
The guys were smiling. It was hard to find someone who wasn’t in a good mood, according to defensive back Charles Woods, and Woods is a big reason why.
With the Mountaineers’ secondary depth decreasing, Woods has seen an increased role in recent weeks. Against the Horned Frogs, he finished the night with five tackles, one fumble and one interception, earning the Dallas native the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week title.
“It was very special because it was one of my first times playing in Texas since high school,” said Woods. “It was just special (with) my mom who could see (and) my family who could see me play. It was really special, especially getting the win on the road.
Making an impact on a Power 5 football schedule has been a long time coming for Woods, who transferred to West Virginia this offseason.
Woods saw little interest in the high school recruiting trail, saying Tuesday he “failed the eye test.” He would end up at Illinois State at the FCS level, ultimately winning All-American honors in his second season.
But after his sophomore year in school, Woods felt obstacles in the road and felt the need to change. After briefly committing to SMU, he announced his transfer to WVU in April.
In Morgantown, the Mountaineers were considering fixes for a defensive secondary full of holes. Two of the previous season’s top playmakers, Tykee Smith and Dreshun Miller, left the program, leaving gaps to be filled.
During the first half of the season, Woods saw limited action as a replacement for starting pitcher Scottie Young, but was quickly used up when the team’s secondary ran out.
Young faced the injury virus. Security Kerry Martin entered the transfer gate. An already thin group was getting thinner and thinner, the climbers seeming to grab straws to fill the void.
But Woods, who has seen more snaps in recent work, has proven to be a savior in high school. Seeing an increased role at this point in the season is exactly the plan of defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley, who said it takes about that long to get comfortable with a change of scenery,
“Charles is a transfer. No matter where you come from, every system is different and it takes time to get used to that system, ”Lesley said. “I think that’s always it, anywhere between (that) fourth and sixth game where when it clicks, it clicks. I think Charles is a guy who is in this situation.
After starting cornerback Nicktroy Fortune got injured in the first half, Woods leaned even more on. For the benefit of the Alpinists, he introduced himself.
“No matter how it goes, you have to prepare like you’re the starter or going to play because you never know when your opportunity will come,” said Woods. “I don’t really spend too much time on it because it’s not my choice. I just get ready every week and get ready to play when my name is called.