There are probably more than 10,000 football players in the nation looking for a job in the NFL. But guess what? Only 1,800 make it there. The players who weren’t enough for the NFL fell to the minor leagues like the AFL, CFL, and now the new UFL.
There is this kid from a college many of you have never heard of: Chadron State. He had close to 8,000 career rushing yards in college, an NCAA leading rusher. But guess what? Never invited to the NFL Combine. So much talent, yet not many interests. He is the best of the best.
And here is the story, from high school, to college, and a tough road to the NFL:
Woodhead started his football career breaking records for North Platte High School in the North Platte, Nebraska. He led North Platte to the State Finals and won against Millard North High School, 24-21. Woodhead also saved the game by blocking a field goal attempt. Then came Ben Woohead, Danny’s older brother, who set up a game-winning field goal by throwing a pass deep down the field.
The game-winning field goal was made by Jake McCarthy.
Sadly, North Platte eventually lost in the State Championship to another Millard School (Millard West High School), 28-14. Woodhead would now want the championship even more as he entered his junior year.
In his junior year at North Platte, his team went 8-1 and won two straight games in the playoffs. But sadly again, they eventually lost to Millard North High School again, but in the semifinals.
Then came his senior season, as North Platte was undefeated with a 9-0 record. This is the first time, since 40 years that North Platte has gone undefeated in school history! In the first round, they beat Omaha North High School. They later went on to beat Bellevue East High School in the second round but lost to Millard North in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
Even though Woodhead never won the state championship, he did have a successful high school career. He finished as Nebraska’s Class A all-time leading rusher with 4,891 rushing yards from 2000-2003. Woodhead also was Nebraska’s Class A leading rusher that year. His teammate, quarterback Derek Enderle, led the state in passing yards that year as well. This also marked the first time in school history that two players led the state in two categories in the same exact season.
Woodhead also ran some track, breaking the school’s 100-meter time with his 10.5 seconds.
In 2004, Woodhead attended Chadron State in Chadron, Nebraska. He rushed for 1,840 rushing yards in his true freshman year. But those stats, that wasn’t like a freshman. Those were more like senior season stats.
In 2005, in Woodhead’s sophomore year, he had 278 carries for 1,769 yards including a 6.4 yards per carry average. He also pounded out 21 touchdowns. While the rushing game was good, he pounded in some expectational stats in receiving: 30 catches for 367 yards including 12.2 yards per reception average.
Woodhead had a, what most experts would say, brilliant season. Some say Hall of Fame! Through twelve games, he had 2,740 rushing yards, passing the record set by Kavin Gaillaird for most single-season division rushing yards. After the whole season, Woodhead had 2,756 yards. He led his team to the NCAA Division II playoffs, too, but lost to Northwest Missouri State.
Through 39 games in Woodhead’s career so far, he had a total of 606 points. That means he averaged 15.5 points per game, the highest ever in the Division II. Only Dan Pugh of Mount Union College (in Ohio), who had 248 points in 2002, and Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State, who had 234 in 1988, had more points in a season than Woodhead in 2006. However, in 2007, Abilene Christian University’s Bernard Scott broke Woodhead’s record by scoring 39 touchdowns (234).
Woodhead also had a little practice with the Atlanta Falcons. They wanted to see his 40 yard dash time as of now, and Woodhead had 4.41 seconds. Pretty fast, huh? He also wont he 55-meter dash at the RMAC Indoor Meet in 2006 as well.
At the start of 2007 (senior year), Woodhead already had 7,441 rushing yards in his career, which means he averaged 190.8 rushing yards per game! He rushed for 200 or more yards in 19 of his 39 games and scored at least one touchdown in 37 consecutive games. Both of those are NCAA all-division records. No kidding.
After a 208-yard performance against Western New Mexico that year, he was college football’s all-time leading rusher. He broke R.J. Bowers record, fullback from Grove City College (in Pennsylvania) from 1997-2000, for the all-time rushing record. Woodhead is also the sixth player in history to rush for over 1,000 yards in all four of his seasons.
Woodhead ended his career with 9,259 all purpose yards, second all-time behind former Villanova and now Philadelphia Eagles’ runnning back, Brian Westbrook, who played for Villanova from 1997-2000 with his 9,512 all purpose yards.
Danny also tied Germaine Race’s (Pittsburg State, 2003-2006) record for Division II career scoring with 654 points on 109 touchdowns. Race is also the all-time leader in two-point conversions with 658 points. Woodhead is also the second player in college football history to rush for over 100 touchdowns.
Barry Sanders is the only player to have more all-purpose yards in a season that the 3,159 all purpose yards Woodhead had gained in 2006. Sanders had 3,250 in 1988, where he won the Heisman Trophy in his junior season. Woodhead was ranked tenth all-time in all purpose Division II yards with 7,349 yards just after his junior season. The Division II leader is Brian Shay of Emporia State as he had 9,301 yards, including 1,207 on kick returns from 1995-1998.
Woodhead was also a candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy from 2004-2007. He won the trophy in 2006 and 2007. After his career, some people complained and talked about that Woodhead could have played for the University of Nebraska. Woodhead later said in an interview that Nebraska didn’t show much interest in him while Chadron State showed 100 percent of it.
Also in Chadron State, he was majored in Math education.
For those of you that are interested in Woodhead’s stats, here they are, provided by Wikipedia:
Some good stats, I know.
Woodhead did not receive an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, sadly, so he had to use his Pro Day to show what he’s got. According to a report at NFLDraftWatch.net, Woodhead ran the 40-yard-dash at times between 4.33-to-4.38 in three tries. That would have been the fastest among all running backs attending the Combine for the 2008 NFL Draft. He posted the best pro-agility time (4.03 seconds), second best vertical jump (38½ inches), and the best 60-yard shuttle time (11.2 seconds).
Woodhead, sadly, went undrafted in 2008. Moments after the draft was over, he received a call from the New York Jets. It was a dream come true. The two parties reached an agreement and it was an undrafted free agent contract.
On July 26, 2008, Woodhead’s dreams went down the drain as he was waived due to an injury.
See what happens? This is what happens when you give everything you got and you did it but no one cares. People will say because of his size: 5’7″ and 200 pounds. Heck, look at Darren Sproles. He is shorter and is at least 10-20 pounds lighter and he is a star!
Is there any love for Woodhead? He had one of college football’s best stories, and people took away his dreams. Where is he now?
I just hope he pursues a successful career in football, no matter what league it is.