When Al Woods was a youngster he was an altar boy at his local church -- that is until he grew out of his suit. Today when you walk into the cafeteria at Elton High School you'll find a picture of Woods with a teammate under each arm with the caption "Got Milk?" He's broken a backboard the last two basketball seasons and now has Elton High School considering sending his dad a bill for the next one that ends up on the floor.
Woods is a heck of a basketball player. In fact, he dunked a basketball for the first time when he was a freshman in high school. But it's the gridiron where Woods will make his mark.
"Our basketball team hadn't lost a game all year until the quarterfinals of the state tournament," said Woods. "We were ranked No. 2 in the state. It was a really disappointing loss.
"I'll focus on football in college. I mostly play basketball to keep my feet and stay in shape," responded Woods when asked if he had any desire to play football and basketball in college.
Like most talented big men in high school, Woods plays on both sides of the ball.
"I play defensive tackle, and on offense I play pulling guard," he said. "I had100 total tackles and 11 tackles for a loss.
"I do prefer playing on defense," added Woods.
I asked Al why he preferred defense and what made him a good defensive tackle.
"Easy, I like to hit people," said Woods. "On defense, you just find the ball and kill it.
"I can take on the double team and I just keep working. I'll chase the play down the line of scrimmage and pursue. If you get past the line of scrimmage, I'll track you down."
The self-assessment by Woods is probably pretty accurate as almost every school in the country is recruiting him.
"I'm getting mail from LSU, USC, Clemson, UCLA, Tennessee, Miami, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Louisville," Woods replied when asked about the recruiting activity. "I have offers from LSU, USC, Clemson and Nebraska."
Notre Dame wasn't in the mix of schools that Woods mentioned, and as most Irish fans know, Notre Dame needs defensive lineman so I asked Woods if he had any interest in Notre Dame.
"Yes sir, I do," he responded. "I haven't heard much from them, and I'd like to hear more from their coaches. They've sent me something on their football camp and so I'm trying to go to one of their camps"
"I haven't been to Notre Dame yet, but I'd like to get the chance to visit as soon as possible," he added.
"I really don't know much about the school or the new coaching staff. I do like watching Notre Dame on television," he replied when I asked what he knew about Notre Dame. "I like that they play disciplined football."
Woods said that his main schools of interest right now were Notre Dame, LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Miami, and UCLA. He has been to the LSU campus and plans on taking a few additional trips.
"I went to the LSU football camp last year," said Woods. "I went to a game as well. It was crazy. There was purple and gold everywhere. I haven't been anywhere else, although I did go to Texas for a basketball camp.
"I'd like to go to camp at USC, ND and Oklahoma."I'm an only child, and I am very close to my parents," Woods replied when I asked if distance would factor into his college decision. "They'll come with me on any visits. I think they might want me to stay close to home, but they will let me make the decision."
Other than location, what will Al look for in a school?
"First thing is education--I want a good graduation rate," said Woods. "I want another family. One that will take me under their wing and show me what I need to know."
Comments: Woods is a very pleasant, well-spoken kid. He is getting recruiting attention from across the country, and the list of early offers is impressive. He certainly will be one the most recruited defensive lineman in the south. Woods is the type of player who could make a huge impact at Notre Dame.