The recruiting process was definitely strenuous and taxing for Havelock senior running back Taylor Woods.
Coming into the season, he held offers from Old Dominion, Elon, The Citadel and Kent State. He was still waiting to see what all other offers he could earn.
After a slow start to the year, Woods cranked it up and rushed for 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns, helping the Rams win a third straight state championship.
Shortly afterward, new James Madison University head coach Everett Withers, former head coach at North Carolina and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, offered Woods a scholarship and brought him up to Harrisonburg, Va., for a visit last weekend.
Thursday, Woods pulled the trigger and committed to the Dukes.
“Coach Withers is a really good coach, and my dad and I both thought that James Madison was the best situation for me,” Woods said. “My dad has been with me through it all, and not pushed me, but wanted what’s best for me. The campus at JMU is beautiful and the dorms are right next to the classrooms so the campus is easily accessible, so I like that.”
In addition to excelling on the field, Woods gets it done in the classroom at Havelock, carrying a 3.0 grade point average.
He said he is unsure of what he plans to major in at James Madison, but will probably go into something in the business field.
“They showed me they wanted me, too,” Woods said of JMU. “I was the No. 1 running back on their board, and I definitely expect to get some playing time next year as a true freshman.”
The Dukes are a part of the Colonial Athletic Association and begin next season with a road game at Maryland.
Friends and family of Woods will have a good chance of seeing him play on Oct. 25 when the Dukes travel to Charlotte.
He said he is excited about the direction that the football program is headed. JMU is planning to add 15,000 seats to its stadium, increasing the capacity to 40,000 from 25,000.
The Dukes are also in preliminary talks with the Mid-American Conference (MAC) about joining the league.
James Madison was 6-6 overall in 2013 and 3-5 in conference.
“I think we will do really well with Coach Withers in place,” Woods said. “From what I’ve heard, everyone wasn’t really on the same page under the old staff, but Coach Withers has united everyone and brings a lot of good qualities to the school.”
After nothing but success in his four years at Havelock, Woods said he was ready to bring the same to the Dukes.
Jordan Honeycutt is a reporter for the Sun Journal.