Star football player and community organizer Ja’Darius “JD” Woods, of Lawrence, has received an invitation to a Rookie Mini Camp with the Seattle Seahawks, according to a news release from Baker University.
Woods is a stellar running back who has also paid it forward as a co-organizer of shoe drives and coat drives for Lawrence kids. After graduating from Lawrence High School in 2016, he spent his first year of college at Missouri Western State University, where he also played football. He then transferred to Baker University in the fall of 2017.
While wearing the No. 1 jersey, Woods broke multiple Baker and NAIA football records. He set the new record at Baker for career rushing yards and became the first Baker football player in history to be a three-time All-American. He also set the new record for the most career rushing touchdowns and the most career rushing yards in NAIA history.
Although he wasn’t drafted, Woods’ dreams are far from over, according to Baker’s news release, shortly after midnight Sunday.
“For me, it means the world to be able to get an opportunity to show what I can do at the next level, and it’s a blessing to be here,” Woods said in the release. “I’m thankful for everything that has happened and the story isn’t over!”
Woods was able to show his skills earlier this spring at the University of Kansas’ Pro Day and ran a 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, according to the release — a time that would have ranked 11th at the NFL Combine against other running backs.
Woods said in an interview in January that “Football lets me go out there and be myself and do something I love.”
“Football has brought me a lot of friends,” he said. “I’ve met different people from different backgrounds, and one of the coolest things is that we can always learn to relate to each other.”
In addition, Woods’ mother, Katrice Woods, in January expressed how meaningful it was to see her son walk across the stage as a first-generation college graduate in his family.
“It was really a blessing. It takes a village, and I see that we have that village – that family and friend support and community support,” she said. “I have an overwhelming feeling of joy when I see JD succeed.”
It seems Woods has kept his mother’s advice in mind.
“We have a phrase that I have given to JD at the end of every one of our conversations since he’s been in school, and it never fails: ‘Never give up,’” Katrice Woods said earlier this year.
Woods was also recently inducted into the Billy Mills Middle School Hall of Fame.
If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters
Latest Lawrence news:
Douglas County Treatment and Recovery Center on track for phase 1 opening next month
A Lawrence Times reporter was ordered to leave the city campsite for unhoused people. ‘That’s a problem,’ First Amendment attorney says
Lawrence Times reporter Chansi Long was targeted by city staff and ordered by police to leave the North Lawrence campsite for people experiencing homelessness Tuesday night while other members of the public were allowed to remain. “That’s a problem,” a local First Amendment expert said.