Straight from Darren Woods Jr.’s mouth–that is his leadership style. He tries to teach players from his past experiences from his three seasons at UNLV. He played in 11 games last season and started in 9 games. This added up to 355 yards on 24 reception and 5 touchdowns for him. For his whole career he has played in 28 games and started 17, catching 67 passes for a shade under 1,000 yards (910 yards) with six total touchdowns.

 

He has experienced it all from the worst loss in program history and point spread history (Howard in 2017), to coming back from 23-points down and beating in-state rival UNR in 2018. In his career, he has experienced a lot and he has learned from those situations. He tries to teach things to other players through his experiences in different situations. He has had a mixture of emotions, but most importantly, he learned from these. He wants to fight for his school, for the city of Las Vegas, and for the coaches who have put a lot of trust in him.

“I’ve pretty much seen it all, all the types of situations you can see in college football. Just understanding that this is my senior year, so I want to leave it all out there all on the field, and knowing that at any given moment anything can happen in a football game and just understanding a lot of different scenarios and concepts and just having to be ready for anything. One model that I always have in the back of my head is that you always want to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.”

 

The coaches have put a lot of faith in his leadership mentality and have put a lot of weight on his shoulders but it won’t bother him. As wide receiver coach Cedric Cormier stated, “Darren’s [Woods] is a natural leader. He’s a leader by nature. That’s just who he is. He’s been leading since he got here. He’s always going to be that leader on and off the field.”

In practice, the coaches put a lot of faith in Darren Woods Jr. They prepare him for the coming season and have a lot of faith in his abilities. Starting quarterback, Armani Rogers, knows it and has a lot of faith in him. The coaches put the wide receiving room and the team in a lot of different situations in practice. Woods said, “The coaches do a good job of putting us in different scenarios and running different scenarios in practice. Like running two minute drills, red zone, running no huddle, things like that. Just putting us in those different scenarios, like hail mary, putting us in those situations to be ready for in the game, because you never know when they’re going to come up in practice. So if we’re ready for them in the game, we’ll be ready to execute.”

 

These different scenarios that are a part of the team’s practice, add to the difficult situations for which the Rebels prepare. They have also had to endure a lot of challenging situations like the Howard game and the blow-out against New Mexico at home in 2018 when the Rebels lost 50-14. Plus, with Armani Rogers being out a total of 12 games the past couple seasons, times haven’t always been easy for the Rebels. One thing Darren Woods has done is put those behind him but also teach other players how to avoid these situations. He is seeing the result of these teachings as the younger players have embraced everything that has been set before them.

 

Woods isn’t done learning either.

“Of course, you know, there are always going to be challenges, especially coming in from the high school level or even just transferring in, or just being a new guy especially in a new playbook. At the end of the day, I’m still new to the playbook, too, but understanding that I have a certain level of maturity under my belt, but just seeing all the young guys embrace it, not getting too down on themselves, understanding that we’re all in this together at the end of the day, you know we’re all still learning, the coaches are still learning what guys can do what, and just understanding that the coaches still have the full trust in us that we have the ability to go out there and still execute. Just understanding at the end of the day we’re all one team, we’re all one wide receiving group, and knowing that we have each others’ backs. So, at the end of the day, we can all come to each other in the film room, help each other out, watch film, pick each other’s brains, and it just makes it that much more of a brotherhood and just that much better for us to execute together on the field as a group.”

Seeing the result of your teachings is one thing, but also knowing your place in the locker room is something Darren Woods knows a lot about. A lot of different things have been put on his plate and he knows it. He realizes the value of senior leadership and he is doing his best to implement the Darren Woods model of it. He is showing the group what they need to do once they reach their senior year.

 

Woods has a big presence that Offensive Coordinator Garin Justice sees, “I think Darren’s kind of the glue that holds that together. He’s a guy who we really ask a lot out of him as far as asking him to play multiple positions both on the outside and the inside some stuff in the backfield, we’re trying to do a lot with him and the good thing is he has the experience, has the intelligence, and has the skill to be able to handle all of that.”

 

His senior leadership is going to be beneficial for this group to perform at its optimal level. He is trying to instill discipline in them while also teaching them the playbook. Even with a first-year coordinator, everything stays pretty much the same and he is able to teach the younger guys what to expect in certain situations.

Darren Woods said, “Being a senior and having experience with playbooks once you get concepts, concepts are kind of the same all around the game of football of course you know different coordinators and different coaches around the game of football are going to have their different names and tags for different types of plays. Once you understand concepts and understand how the offense is trying to take the defense, everything starts to become second nature and you get it pretty quickly. It makes things a lot easier and then being able to also help the young guys and know that they look, you don’t have to think so hard on this, it’s actually pretty easy, as long as you just start to understand the concepts.”