The Oklahoman

Former UT fan Woods now a Sooner weapon

- OU Insider Justin Martinez The Oklahoman USA TODAY NETWORK

NORMAN — Michael Woods always thought he’d be on the other side of the Red River Showdown.

The senior wide receiver has establishe­d himself as one of Oklahoma’s top weapons after transferri­ng from Arkansas earlier this year, but he had different aspiration­s while growing up in Magnolia, Texas.

Woods grew up as a fan of the Texas Longhorns, watching highlights of Vince Young’s performanc­e in the 2005 Rose Bowl from the comfort of his burnt orange bedroom.

Woods had it all. A Longhorns trash can. A Longhorns mini helmet. Longhorns footballs. Longhorns stickers on his walls. A poster of Young.

It didn’t matter that he lived less than an hour away from Texas A&M’s campus in College Station either. He knew exactly which team he wanted to play

for in college.

“Texas was my dream school coming up,” Woods said in a Q&A video on his YouTube channel on Aug. 5, 2020. “I was just getting in fights with people because everybody was for Texas A&M, so we had a big clash.”

While Woods looked up to players such as Young, he was making a name for himself at Magnolia High School, erupting for 1,456 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in 12 games during his junior season. Woods then followed that up with 1,018 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior.

Woods dominated on the field all while setting a good example in practice and in the classroom.

“(Woods) is a guy that my own kids looked up to,” said Sterling Doty, who was Woods’ head coach at Magnolia High School. “He was a team leader and a captain for us. The guys followed him because he had great practice habits... He did things the right way.”

Rated as a consensus three-star recruit in the Class of 2018, Woods received scholarshi­p offers from over a dozen Division I programs. Texas, however, was not on the list. That led Woods to exchange his burnt orange attire for cardinal red as he committed to then-head-coach Chad Morris and Arkansas on Dec. 10, 2017.

“I remember (Woods) wearing a lot of burnt orange earlier on in high school,” Doty said. “But he fell in love with Coach Morris. ... They had such a great relationsh­ip and built their trust on that relationsh­ip, and Mike chose to go be an Arkansas Razorback.”

Woods spent the next three years with the Razorbacks, and his junior season in 2020 proved to be his best. The 6-foot-1 wideout racked up career highs of 619 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 32 catches.

But, instead of building on the breakout campaign with a senior sendoff at Arkansas, Woods took many people by surprise when he entered the transfer portal on April 20.

“It was just something that was on my mind,” Woods said of the decision. “I felt it was the best move for my career to find another opportunit­y.”

Woods then made another decision that probably would’ve shocked his younger self. Just three days after entering the portal, the former Texas diehard committed to OU.

“As a wide receiver, you look at OU putting up these big numbers and every wide receiver wants to be in an offense like this,” Woods said. “It was pretty easy when they reached out to me. You see what Coach Riley does with transfers and what his receivers do and also his quarterbac­ks. So, it was a pretty easy decision.”

Despite competing for targets with players such as Marvin Mims and Jadon Haselwood, Woods is already making an impact with the Sooners.

The explosive wideout boasts 187 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 20 receptions through OU’s first five contests.

“He’s just a mature, real complete receiver,” redshirt junior wide receiver Drake Stoops said. “He has all the physical attributes that make a great receiver.”

Woods will be leaned on this Saturday when OU faces Texas in the Red River Showdown in Dallas.

While Woods thought he’d be on the opposing sideline growing up, it’s still a game he has been itching to be a part of for quite some time.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing what the hype is all about,” Woods said. “This game is talked about year-round. It’s been talked about ever since I got to Oklahoma. ... I’m just excited to experience it.”

Few sporting events in the country can match the intensity of the Red River Showdown. But when Woods steps onto the field of the Cotton Bowl prior to kickoff, he’ll go through his pre-game routine just like he does for every contest.

He’ll look around the stadium and take in every detail of the 91-year-old venue.

He’ll walk along the right side of the field since that’s where he does the bulk of his damage.

And when the ball kicks off, he’ll go to work.

“I’m going to take it all in while I’m there and we run out,” Woods said. “But when it’s time to get locked in, I’m going to be locked in and ready to do my job.”

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 ?? BRYAN TERRY/ THE OKLAHOMAN ?? OU’s Michael Woods II warms up before the Sooners’ 16-13 win over West Virginia on Sept. 25.
BRYAN TERRY/ THE OKLAHOMAN OU’s Michael Woods II warms up before the Sooners’ 16-13 win over West Virginia on Sept. 25.

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