It would be easy to consider Derrick Woods the forgotten man.
The Oklahoma true freshman joined Sterling Shepard, Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal as Sooners signees in February at the receiver position. Metoyer started his first four games in crimson and cream, Shepard has shown flashes of being a difference-maker and Neal has played well when given the opportunity.
All three have enjoyed moments in the spotlight this season.
Yet as those three have found the field as freshmen, Woods has been quietly making noise on the scout team while redshirting this fall.
“We put him on scout team and told him to go compete every day and try to be the best player on the field,” receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “He was scout team player of the week for the third or fourth time [last week], he’s got a super attitude and wants to get better.”
Woods stepped on campus as a relatively raw talent compared to the other three, who played a lot of snaps at receiver in high school. He played several positions at Compton (Calif.) High School, including quarterback, as his all-purpose talent made people wonder what position the Army All-American would end up playing at OU.
“I told Derrick today he’s looking good,” said cornerback Aaron Colvin, who goes against Woods every day in practice. “I see the growth in him day to day. I’m excited to see what he does in the future because I really think he can have a breakout year.”
At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Woods brings good size to the position, and OU’s nutritional, strength and conditioning program should help him approach 200 pounds in his OU career.
Along with adding bulk, the redshirt season is allowing Woods to grow as a pass-catcher. He has had plenty to learn at the receiver position, but he’s making progress. And impressing his teammates.
“He came in, and you could tell how young he was at the receiver position,” receiver Kenny Stills said. “He’s a very raw talent. He came in, paid attention and listened to the little details and he’s made a lot of improvement since fall camp.”
Colvin, one of the Big 12’s best cornerbacks, expects Woods to become a handful for Big 12 defenders.
“He can do everything,” Colvin said. “He can run, his hands are strong, he’s getting bigger every week it seems. His routes are getting so much better and he’s getting a feel for college football. Today he told me he’s getting more comfortable out there. And I can see it every week.”
His progress has to be music to the ears of Sooners fans with visions of Shepard, Metoyer, Woods and Neal alongside each other for multiple seasons in Norman.
“He’s really competitive and very athletic,” Norvell said. “Some guys are super fast or have great jumping ability. And some guys are just athletic, they can move their body and get in position to make things happen. And that’s what Derrick does.”