February 27, 2008

Wood is no sleeper

The Ohio State recruiting effort for the class of 2009 has done a great job of looking inward with seven of eight recruits residing within the borders of the state of Ohio. By contrast in the class of 2008 only nine of 19 current commits come from the state of Ohio. The latest in-state player to give his pledge to the Buckeyes was Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive back/receiver Jamie Wood.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder admits that he wasn't hearing from Ohio State up until the final stretches of his recruitment. Offers were coming in slowly for Wood starting during his junior season but once his Ohio State offer came in things rapidly took off.

"Well actually Cincinnati was my first offer and they were the first team to actually write me a letter and I was psyched about that and the offer," Wood said. "Then all of a sudden all of these other schools started to come and I think my second was Northwestern. With that being a Big Ten school they started to flow in from there with Stanford, Illinois and Penn State all coming in after Ohio State offered. Schools just started offering and it was good times but with Ohio State it pretty much sealed it right there."

While Wood may have been a bit of an unknown to people outside of central Ohio there was no doubt that the newest Ohio State commit was a known quantity to teams that lined up against him.

"He has started for us for three years and as each year has gone by he has learned the value of increased strength and speed," Pickerington (Ohio) Central head coach Jay Sharrett said. "Add to that being 6-foot-2 and really working on his ball skills. The next thing you know he is getting a bunch of calls and a bunch of offers."

Wood is humble about his abilities and doesn't like to talk about himself much but his coach knows that he is a special player and has all of the tools to take his game to the next level in a big way.

"He is a very aggressive tackler and he has great hips," Sharrett said. "He doesn't have to gear down a lot to tackle. In his open field tackling once he gets a pretty good grip on you there is a pretty good chance that he is going to bring you down. He can lay the wood when he needs to but his tackling and ball skills are what really made him that hybrid free safety/strong corner type of deal and I think that is what has made him very appealing."

The future safety agrees that his tackling and ball awareness are both just a couple of things that he shines at.

"I am not the type of guy to really boast or talk about myself but if had to say something I would say that I am always around the ball," Wood said. "I make the for sure tackles and I am a good open field tackler and once I get my hands on you I am going to try my best to get you down."

Wood only has one year of defense under his belt at the high school level. As the offensive MVP last season for his team the transition to playing on both sides of the ball was a natural one and getting back on the defensive side of the ball for the first time since junior high school.

"I have always wanted to play defense but being a younger guy (underclassman) I just kind of wanted to stick with one thing and work at it as a receiver," Wood said. "Once I got on the defensive side I knew that I could possibly do something after the first game."

Don't sell his offensive talents short though… 550 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a junior show that Wood can get things done on the offensive side of the ball.

"On the offensive side of the ball I make the for-sure catches and I also make the tough to catch kind of catches too," Wood said. "I will go up and get the ball and I will do my best to get to the ball."

Pickerington Central has used Wood in several different roles during his three year career and when Wood sets foot on campus in the fall of 2009 he will be ready to fill whatever role is asked of him.

"He just loves to play football," Sharrett said. "If they put him on the kickoff team he will run down on the kickoff team and it doesn't matter to him. If (defense) is where he can help his team win then he will play defensive back. For us he plays free safety, up safety, corner, tailback, wing back, wide receiver so wherever we ask him to play he will do it and that is they of kid he is and that is why we have had the success that we have had."

Wood admits that there are several things that he would like to work on during his final season of high school football and that the quest for knowledge and being a student of the game will never end for him.

"There is always stuff that you can learn," Wood said. "Even when you get to college or the pros or anything like that but I would say that (last season) was my first year of playing defense in high school… but being my first year I have a lot of technique stuff that I have to work on. You can never go wrong with learning different techniques and different styles of playing defense."

Who does Wood try and model his game after?

"I like how Sean Taylor would hit (on defense) and offensively I like how Terrell Owens his physical," Wood said. "Taylor is not with us now but I still look up to him."

Does Wood have any goals for his senior season?

"First of all is to stay healthy," Wood said. "That is a big part because you can't play if you are hurt and you can't play to your ability if you are hurt. Just play healthy and I want to have my best year in my senior year and go out with a bang and carrying it over to the collegiate level."

With more than a year before enrolling at Ohio State it might be a little premature to start talking about a major in college but Wood has started thinking about the future.

"I have looked into a bunch of areas," Wood said. "I like computers but I am not crazy about math (laugh). I also of course like sports and physical so I have looked into the training (field) so that is always an area that I can look into."

Is there any chance that Wood might waver on his decision to be a Buckeye?

"It's done," Wood said. "Ohio State sealed it and right now we are just going to work on beating Upper Arlington. That is the first team we play next year in my senior season. I am a captain and we are going to try and bring this team out and hopefully do some big things and make some noise."

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