J.D. Woods Prepares for Pittsburgh - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

J.D. Woods Prepares for Pittsburgh


Playing his college ball just a few miles down the road from Pittsburgh, J.D. Woods became very familiar with the Steelers and their fan base.

With former teammates and West Virginia alumni on the roster and in camp, the Mountaineer receiver had the chance to speak with friends of his about what exactly the Steelers stand for and how the game is played at the next level in the black and gold.

On Saturday night, when Woods signed with Pittsburgh as a rookie free agent, he thought back to words he recalled his old WVU coach sharing with him about the man at the head of what would be his new team.

"Being a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization means a lot to me because of Coach [Bill] Stewart, God rest his soul," says Woods, referring to the former Mountaineers football coach. "He praised Coach [Mike] Tomlin and all we heard in the meeting room was Coach Tomlin this, Coach Tomlin that. To actually be a part of Coach Tomlin's organization is a tremendous pleasure of mine."

It is well documented that Stewart once gave Tomlin his first assistant coaching position when he was working at VMI. Ever since Stewart became head coach at West Virginia, Tomlin would come around for pro day and keep a keen eye on what the Mountaineers had to offer.

A year ago, he and general manager Kevin Colbert watched WVU's Will Johnson work out at the team's pro day and signed him on the spot. He became the team's starting fullback in his rookie season.

Woods believes there is potential for a strong connection between the Mountaineers and the Steelers if Tomlin and Colbert continue to enjoy what they see on their visit to Morgantown.

"I'm going to keep the good connection going," says Woods. "Will Johnson has been a mark for all Mountaineers to go in and start, so I'm trying to go in and make plays."

Making plays is all Woods has ever tried to do. In just about every interview he gave during his time at West Virginia, he used those words countless times to describe his goals for the coming season or for that weekend's game.

He had the opportunities to do so, finishing his senior year with 637 yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions. Most other seasons, those would be outstanding numbers for a WVU receiver, but Woods was the third target on his offense behind Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

Over the weekend, he watched as the St. Louis Rams plucked those two off the board with their first and third round selections.

"I was extremely excited for Tavon, Geno [Smith] and Stedman," Woods says. "To see those guys go in the draft, it meant a lot to me. I knew it meant a lot to them because now they're in a position to represent their families and put their families in a better position. I was just extremely happy for those guys."

Woods says what those four share is a work ethic to get the job done. In their time at West Virginia, it is what helped them succeed and now they will have the chance to show it off at the next level.

Of course, the offense they ran when they took the field at Milan Puskar Stadium didn't hurt, either.

"I thank Dana Holgorsen for blessing me with the opportunity to play with the program at West Virginia," says Woods. "He presented me with this opportunity now to excel and I'm overwhelmed and grateful just to have been part of Dana Holgorsen's offense."

He will travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday and begin rookie mini camp on Friday, joining another former teammate in the process. Center Joe Madsen also signed on with the Steelers on Saturday and the familiar face will only serve to help Woods get accustomed to a new environment.

"It means a lot and the funny thing about it is me and Joey actually went out to eat a couple days before pro day, so now we get to link up in the pros. I'm excited," says Woods.

This is no time for Woods to feel as though he has accomplished anything. What lies ahead of him is as daunting a task as any he's faced on the field leading up to this point.

He has the experience and the drive to remain focused when he enters camp, but showing up and sticking around are two different beasts. Woods is hoping for the latter.

"The real work starts now," Woods says. "It's no time to joke around right now. I'm taking everything as my last play. This is a really good opportunity and we have to take advantage of this opportunity and make a blessing of it."

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