The Chadron State Eagles are in the Division II/NAIA playoffs. You've heard of Chadron State, right? They beat Div IAA Montana State, who beat Colorado, who has beat darned near next to no one (so there's no link to how Chadron State could be the Division IA National Champ. Let's hope it stays that way next week). Chadron State is in Chadron, Nebraska, way up in the Sandhills, the Northwestern corner of the state. Fire up Google Earth, type in "Chadron State College, Nebraska" in the "fly to" field and see where it takes you. That's the middle of nowhere.
The big story about the Chadron State Eagles this year is a Junior tailback named Danny Woodhead from North Platte, Nebraska. (NP is about 35 miles North of where I grew up). People around there say that he should be playing for the University of Nebraska - that Bill Callahan was silly not to recruit him. When you look at the numbers he's put up in Division II, it's clear he could have moved up to another level, but what fun would it be without the second-guessing?
Woodhead leads all NCAA division rushers - the next closest is Division III's Chris Sharpe, who is over 600 yards behind him. Woodhead has rushed for 2,488 yards and 32 touchdowns so far this season, leading Chadron State to a 11-0 record. He averages 8.5 yards a carry and 226.2 yards a game. His rushing totals in games this year include two 300-yard games and five 200 yard games. In a game a couple weeks ago against Western State, Woodhead gained 158 yards in the first half, and didn't play the second as Chadron had a 38-0 lead. If those stats aren't enough, he caught 33 passes for 315 yards - giving him a total of 2,803 all-purpose offense.
If that isn't enough -
- He has been named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference offensive player of the week seven out of 11 games this season.
- With 80 career touchdowns, he is sure to break the career touchdown record next season, as there are only three players ahead of him.
- He is third in Division II all-time single season rushing list, with games left to play.
- Fifteen games over 200 yards rushing out of a total of 31 games - breaking the Division II record, and tying the All-Division record, with games left to play.
What more do you want out of a football player?
Number seven-ranked Chadron State will host 11-1 West Texas A&M this Saturday in the second round of the Division II playoffs. Chadron truly is in the middle of nowhere, but that middle of nowhere happens to be around Pine Ridge, and the South Dakota Blackhills aren't far away - it's a beautiful area of the country. For as much complaining as we do about how college football has begun to resemble the NFL with it's scripted entertainment, big screens, and canned entrance, perhaps it's worth the drive all the way to Chadron to see this guy play. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students.
You wanted something different to do for Thanksgiving, didn't you?