TELEGRAM: Hounds Herb Woodard is still running, but not away from responsibility!September 24, 2009
By Jennifer Toland
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Herb Woodard learned all about responsibility as a pre-teen, caring for his three younger siblings after school while his parents worked. Woodard would make sure they did their homework, make sure they kept out of trouble and make sure they were in before dark.
"It was a lot of responsibility," said Woodard, who was born in Bridgeton, N.J., the fifth of Herbert and Terry Woodard's eight children, "but it made me a better person."
Woodard, Assumption's star junior running back, still likes to spend his time helping people.
"Why not?" said Woodard, who is heavily involved with Assumption's Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), which does a number of on-campus and community events, as well as the college's Office of Multicultural Affairs. He most recently joined Students for Safe Choices, which promotes alcohol awareness.
"I just try to be involved and take advantage of every opportunity I can," Woodard said.
Woodard, a management major, has been an honor-roll student the last two years and has a 3.0 grade point average.
On the field, Woodard is off to a tremendous start for the Greyhounds (2-1). He has topped 100 yards rushing in each of AC's first three games and scored eight touchdowns. With 1,929 career rushing yards, Woodard is closing in on Fran DeFalco's Assumption record of 2,289 yards.
Woodard lived on campus this summer, working for the college's building and grounds department and hitting the weight room every chance he had. He added muscle and strength to his 5-foot-8, 175-pound frame.
"He's a hard worker, and he got himself stronger," AC coach Cory Bailey said. "He put on some weight so he can kind of take the load a little bit more."
Woodard rushed for 966 yards as a freshman and earned Northeast-10 Conference and ECAC Division 2 Rookie of the Year honors. In his first career start, Woodard ran for 277 yards and five first-half touchdowns in a win at St. Anselm. You may say it was his breakout game.
"It was amazing, unreal," Woodard said. "I couldn't believe it. I felt like no one could stop me or touch me. I think to play running back, you have to have that killer instinct, and that comes with confidence and experience."
Woodard missed some time last year with a nagging groin injury, but still led the team with 550 rushing yards. At 100 percent now, he's coming off a 30-carry, 175 yard, 4-TD effort against New Haven.
Woodard was among those who were happy to see Bailey return to Assumption after a season away, and the junior thinks this year's team is ready to make some noise. The Hounds won just one game last year, four the season before.
"We have the talent," Woodard said. "We just have to put it together."
The Hounds face a big test tomorrow when they take on NE-10 favorite Southern Connecticut. Assumption has never defeated the Owls.
Woodard did not play in last year's game against Southern Conn. because of his injury and had limited touches against the Owls as a freshman, so it's a game he's looking forward to playing.
Woodard's mom has been his biggest influence, biggest supporter and biggest cheerleader since he started playing football at age 8. She helped him through a rough patch when he was younger.
"My attitude sucked," Woodard said. "I was mad all the time. My mom brought me out of it, and when I took on a bigger responsibility at home, around fifth or sixth grade, I grew up. All of those things made me who I am today. I just try to do my best and be the best person I can be socially, academically and athletically."
Bailey predicts Woodard will be "a real success story" when he graduates. "He's a leader," Bailey said.
Woodard's parents usually make all of his games, but unfortunately they'll miss tomorrow's Homecoming matchup against Southern Conn. There will definitely be a void in the Hounds' cheering section.
"People tell me when I run, my mom's in the stands running with me," Woodard said. "She is a character. I love to see her when I look up in the stands. I want to make her proud."