Following in one’s father’s footsteps is always challenging, but when your dad is NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, creating a name for yourself is tough. When your dad is a former eleven-time Pro Bowler, escaping that shadow can be a tough proposition, but San Francisco City College’s Jairus Woodson is up to the task.
“Jairus is his own guy,” City College head coach Jimmy Collins said. “He is not is his dad’s shadow at all, not around here, he is his own guy and everybody loves Woody.”
The sophomore safety, who played high school football at Valley Christian in Pleasanton, transferred to City College after playing football at Northern Arizona for a year. Since joining the Rams, Woodson has recorded six interceptions, including three this season.
“He is a ball magnet,” said City College secondary coach Kevin Almlie. “The ball just finds him, whether it sticks to him or boomerangs to him, he is always around the ball. He is fast and savvy, and is able to anticipate where the ball is going, and he puts himself in a position to make plays.”
Rod Woodson began his career as a cornerback, but finished it as a safety, playing for the Steelers, 49ers, Ravens and Raiders during his illustrious 17-year career. He later coached with Oakland, and provides his son with the football education opportunity of a lifetime.
“Whenever he can, whenever watching my games, he always gives me tips on what I can improve on,” Woodson said. “If we are watching a game together, he will tell me what this player is doing wrong and what he can do better. Especially when I was high school, he always tries to help me. Always tells me never get beat deep.”
Rod has helped Jairus with all sorts of minutia, like proper alignment, perfecting zone coverage, and how to keep your head on a swivel, skill sets that are critical to being a good defensive back.
“Jairus hasn’t certain qualities and intangibles that you can’t coach, and he has a bunch of those,” Collins said. “He is well rounded, has good ball skills, tackles well, and got pretty elite speed.”
During the Ram’s 38-13 win over Chabot on Oct. 27, Woodson hauled in two key interceptions in the red zone that helped his team seal the victory.
“I like zone because I can get the quarterback to think I am not there,” Jairus said. “On Saturday the quarterback didn’t think I was there and when he threw the ball I jumped the route.”
He’s also stepped up and filled in at both punter and kick returner for the Rams, who are dealing with a plethora of injuries this season.
“I like doing a lot of things, just being an athlete,” Woodson said.
Woodson has no Division I offers yet, but is hopeful that some will arrive soon. But even though he has a father who is well-connected at every level of football, and could help open doors for him, Woodson is determined to make his own name for himself.
“He doesn’t try to promote me, because he believes I can do it myself,” Woodson said. “He really wants me to shine by myself without too much help from him. I try to be the best player I can be, not have too much effect because of him, try to make the plays I can make. Ever since I was younger he has encouraged me to be my own man.”