The last time Andre’ Woodson roamed the practice fields outside of Kentucky’s football facility he was the leader of the best two-year stretch in the program’s history since the last 1970s. The quarterback guided the Cats to 16 victories in 2006 and 2007, the most since Derrick Ramsey notched 19 exactly 30 years prior, proving you can win in Lexington even if college football’s establishment snickers at the notion.
Now Woodson is back walking the same halls and charged with helping make sure the gap between back-to-back impressive seasons isn’t nearly as long. Woodson joined the UK coaching staff as a student assistant this spring and has drawn rave reviews for his early work with quarterbacks Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith.
“Andre’ has been great to have out there and invaluable to me just having been around me for two years,” offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said. “He knows what I’m looking for, what I want and how I want it done. He gives me an extra set of eyes out there. He’s been a great help for not only me, but helping Morgan and Max.”
Woodson certainly has the pedigree to be a resource with a wealth of knowledge for the two young quarterbacks. He struggled his first two seasons before blossoming midway through the 2006 season, culminating with 13 victories in his last 19 games under center, including the upset of No. 1 LSU and ending the losing streak to rival Louisville.
At one point Woodson was considered one of the top NFL prospects in college football, but saw his career derailed by a dreadful performance in the Senior Bowl (due in large part to passing guru Mike Martz attempting to change his delivery) and never played a down in short tenures with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. That’s when Woodson began re-evaluating life after football.
“It’s difficult for me when I watch sometimes because of the competitive nature in me and I feel like I’m still in good shape and could still go out there and play,” Woodson said. “But I understand I gave that up and I’m coaching now and I try to bring that competitive spirit to that and be the best coach I can be. That’s my direction now.”
Always quick with a smile, Woodson laughed while talking about his new role as a 20-something coach.
“All the kids are having fun with it, saying Coach ‘Dre and stuff,” Woodson said. “It’s obviously been different and a transition for me but at the same time I’m loving it.
“Obviously, when you play quarterback you’re naturally a teacher because you have to coach all the players as you’re on the field. Now it’s just a different way of coaching because you’re the guy they come to and you have to help them learn things and understand their responsibilities. You’re the guy that’s accountable. I’m definitely loving it and think it’s a calling for me.”
At the very least, Woodson is proof positive Kentucky football can succeed.