Tuscola star, teammates excited for possibilities

Tuscola star, teammates excited for possibilities

TUSCOLA — Hunter Woodard has been able to enjoy his weekends this fall. Friday nights have been win after win for his current team, with three of the five of the blowout caliber for Tuscola.

Saturdays had been more of the same for his future team. At least until this past Saturday and No. 6 Oklahoma State's 44-31 loss to No. 16 TCU.

Until then, though, Woodard got to watch the Cowboys run roughshod over Tulsa, South Alabama and Pittsburgh with their offense averaging 607 yards and 54 points per game in the victories.

It's an offense Woodard, a 6-foot-5, 296-pound tackle, will eventually be blocking for when he heads to Stillwater, Okla., in less than a year.

"They've played really well," Woodard said after Tuscola's 50-0 win Friday against Central A&M but before Oklahoma State fell to TCU. "I'm pretty excited for them and can't wait to see how far they go. It's pretty exciting I'll be going into something like that — a program that's built itself and is nationally recognized like that."

Woodard committed to Oklahoma State in mid-April. He did so over other offers from the likes of Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State, Syracuse and Wyoming. Oklahoma State's continued success has made it easier for Woodard to politely turn down the other programs that have kept in contact.

"There's been a couple here and there, but it's slowed down a lot since I committed," Woodard said. "I'm a hard commit. I love Oklahoma State and don't really want to switch, honestly."

Regular Thursday night conversations with his future offensive line coach Josh Henson and a group chat with the Cowboys' other commits — Woodard is one of 18, including four other offensive linemen, in Oklahoma State's top 30 class — maintains Woodard's tie to the program.

"I don't want to go in thinking they're strangers," he said. "I want to go in knowing who's who and who I'm going to be tight with."

Until then, Woodard is blocking for another potent Tuscola offense while moonlighting as a defensive end for the Warriors playing about half the snaps on that side of the ball. It's at offensive tackle, though, where his presence is truly felt.

Tuscola is averaging 46.8 ppg in its 5-0 start. Short-field situations kept the Warriors' total yardage down Friday, but they still managed to average 8.6 yards per carry and 14.2 yards per completion behind their offensive line.

"I can just run behind him, grab his shoulder pads and know he's going to block," Tuscola quarterback Luke Sluder said of Woodard. "If everybody else does what they can, we can run all over people."

Tuscola coach Andy Romine recognizes the rarity that is a Division I football recruit playing for the Warriors. How Woodard has handled everything that entails, though, is something Romine intimated speaks to his senior lineman's character.

"I'm so proud of the way he's handled himself and kept our team first," Romine said. "Here's the other thing that I'm so proud of from our team — our kids are genuinely excited for the opportunity he'll get when he's done here.

"I can't just describe him in one word. He's very, very coachable, and he's very selfless. Those are things when I look back on his career that I'll be the most proud of as a guy that gets to coach him."