Wesley Woodyard # LB
Height: 6-0 Weight: 233 Age: 27
Born: 7/21/1986 La Grange , GA
Experience: 7th season
High School: La Grange HS [GA]
If players were measured by their heart and desire instead of their body structure, Woodyard would be a giant among men. A fearless tackler with little regard for his own safety, he will probably switch to safety at the professional level. Even with the addition of 10 pounds of bulk after his final season, the Wildcat realizes his days as a linebacker might come to an end in 2008.
Woodyard has experience playing in the defensive backfield, having enrolled at Kentucky as a strong safety, where he played until moving to linebacker midway through his freshman campaign. He would go on to start 42 games at weak-side linebacker for the Wildcats, becoming the first UK player since 1992 to register more than 300 career tackles, finishing his tenure at Kentucky as the school's eighth-ranked tackler with 395. Along the way, he produced at least 10 tackles in 18 contests.
At LaGrange High School, Woodyard was named the Georgia Class AAA Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He added first-team All-State honors as a senior (Georgia Sportswriters Association and the Journal-Constitution) and was one of the top 50 safeties in the nation as rated by Rivals.com. He also won a Distinguished Athlete Award from the U. S. Marine Corps.
A four-year letterman and two-year starter at outside linebacker, he helped the team post a 51-3 record during his career, winning a pair of state championships. Woodyard accounted for the only points in the state quarterfinals, tackling a running back for a safety in a 2-0 win over Swainsboro. He made 125 tackles during his senior season, including 11 tackles for loss, as he had six fumble recoveries, returning four for touchdowns. As a junior, he notched 81 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two fumbles caused and an interception.
In addition to his defensive work, he played occasionally on offense at wingback. He was a three-year letterman on the track team, competing in the 400-meter run and the 4x100-meter relay. The relay team finished second in the state meet during his sophomore year. He was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Woodyard selected Kentucky over Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina and Southern Mississippi during the recruiting wars, arriving on campus in 2004 as a strong safety. He played in 10 games, starting five late season contests after switching to weak-side inside linebacker despite weighing just 196 pounds. He earned Freshman All-Southeastern Conference honors and became the first freshman to serve as a team captain (for Indiana and Alabama games).
That season, Woodyard produced 34 tackles (26 solos) with a stop for a loss and a pair of QB pressures. He shifted to weak-side outside linebacker as a sophomore, going on to lead the team in tackles in each of the next three seasons. He delivered the first of three 100-tackle campaigns, with 75 solo hits, two sacks and seven stops for losses in 2005. He broke up five passes, intercepted another and recovered four fumbles, garnering All-SEC honorable mention as he ranked fourth in the conference in tackles.
As a junior, Woodyard ranked 18th in the nation with a team-high 122 tackles (80 solos), the second-best figure in the conference. The first-team All-SEC and Academic All-SEC pick had two sacks and 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, as he constantly wreaked havoc in the backfield, causing four fumbles while recovering two others. He also had an interception and a pair of pass break-ups.
The 212-pound linebacker again earned All-SEC first-team recognition as a senior. He was in on a career-high 139 tackles (78 solos), ranking 17th in the nation while leading the league with an average of 10.62 hits per game. He had five pass break-ups, a fumble recovery and three forced fumbles in 3 games.
In 47 games at Kentucky, Woodyard started 42 contests, missing only one game due to an injury. He registered 395 tackles (259 solos) with 6.5 sacks for minus-48 yards and 26 stops for losses of 96 yards. He caused seven fumbles, recovered seven others, including one that he returned 21 yards. He deflected 12 passes and intercepted two others.