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CB Xavier Woods on way to super 2012

8/29/2012

This is going to sound familiar for LSU football fans.

Locked in a scoreless tie with three seconds to play until the half last Saturday night, defending Class 4A state champion Neville lined up for a field goal against cross-town rival and defending Class 5A champion West Monroe.

Facing the possibility of a halftime deficit, West Monroe cornerback Xavier Woods intervened. Neville kicker Gabriel Adams connected with the ball, but rather than sail toward the Rebels' goal post it was knocked aside by the small, scrappy Woods, who raced around the left side of the Tigers' line for a timely block. Fellow defensive back Tory Moore scooped up the loose ball and raced 80 yards to paydirt for a 7-0 lead and a 10-point swing in momentum.

"I just try to make big plays for my team when we need them," Woods said. "The offense is going to put points on the board, but this defense can put points on the board also."

Is he starting to sound like a certain diminutive playmaker, recently dismissed from the LSU roster? No? Need more convincing?

Woods' versatility stretched to the Rebels' secondary as well. The senior projects to spend most of his season at cornerback for West Monroe, but he made the switch to safety effortlessly throughout the 14-7 win against Neville. On the first play of the game, Woods stepped in from safety and clobbered a Neville receiver to break up a completion.

"The defense looks incredible -- best defense in the state," he said. "That's our job is to have a great defense, and the offense will come along with the defense."

So Woods is a smaller defensive back, he makes spark plug plays for his team and he can move efficiently around the secondary. It starts to sound a lot like former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. The comparison stands up already, but Woods decided to hammer the point home against Neville. Multiple times throughout the night he shined as a punt returner, weaving his way through Tiger defenders and almost breaking two different punts for scores.

It's no surprise to learn that Woods gained the nickname Honey Badger from his teammates on the way to last fall's state title. Although that's one spot where the two differ -- perhaps as a result of Mathieu's recent dismissal.

"I'm the X-Man now," Woods said.

There is another similarity, and it's not as flattering. Much like Mathieu, Woods is flying under the radar as he enters his senior year. Woods holds offers from the likes of Houston, Louisiana-Monroe and several schools in Conference USA. But not many major programs have come sniffing around, with the exception of some interest from Mississippi State. With 10 games left in his high school career, Woods hopes to change that.

"I just need to keep playing football. I've been on the scene just for one year," Woods said. "Some guys step on the scene and start for two years (before their senior year); I've only been starting for one. I've only started 14 games, so I've got a long way to go."