Danny Woodhead plays tailback for the Chadron State Eagles in Division II. Woodhead set the single season record for rushing for all NCAA divisions this season, rushing for a total of 2756 yards on 344 carries, becoming the first player to ever rush for more than 2700 yards in a season. He averaged eight yards per carry, averaged 212 yards per game and scored 34 touchdowns on the group. Add to that another 403 yards in receiving with four touchdowns, and you have a whopping total of 3,159 yards. His 38 total touchdowns lead Division II in scoring.
Chadron State had a very good season, undefeated going into the Division II playoffs. They beat West Texas A&M, then lost the following week to perennial powerhouse Northwest Missouri State, 28-21. Northwest Missouri State beat Bloomsburg to advance to the Division II national title game.
I got the chance to talk with Woodhead before he headed to Alabama as a finalist for the Harlon Hill trophy, which is given to the top player in Division II. The award will be presented this Friday, December 15th. Danny has since been placed on the American Football Coaches Association and Daktronics Division II All-American Teams.
Here's the interview with Danny:
CN: You had sixteen carries for sixteen yards in the Northwest Missouri game, what happened to you guys?
DW: I don't think anything happened to us, they played such a good game. Their front four is amazing and they have some very good linebackers also. They tried to take our running game away, so when they did that we were able to throw the ball. We were able to hurt them throwing the ball, and that's how I got into the game was by receiving.
CN: How many total purpose yards did you have?
DW: I think just under 100.
CN: You ran for more yardage this year than anyone has in the history of college football. What does that statement mean to you?
DW: It's an honor just to be mentioned with some of the names that have quite a bit of yardage up in that area. I don't know if it's really hit me. I guess individual statistics aren't really that big a deal to me. It is an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as all those other running backs.
CN: You're one of three finalists for the Harlon Hill trophy, which is like winning the Heisman in Division II. What would it mean to win it?
DW: I don't know if it would really mean that much to myself. More than anything it would mean a lot to Chadron, the community, maybe to North Platte (his hometown). Especially to my offensive lineman because they take pride in what they do, they're a big part of the rushing yards. I really think they'd love to see me win it along with the rest of my teammates. Myself, if I win it, that would be a great honor. It'd be exciting, but it's not something that I'm going up for, that I have to get. I'm just having fun with playing football right now, if the award comes, great, if not, then I'm still going to be a happy guy.
CN: How would you compare Division I to Division II football?
DW: I don't know if you really can because the depth in DI is a lot better. The talent level is higher also. You also have to take into consideration that the people on your team are going to be at a higher level also. People are always asking me - what if you played against Division I talent. You really can't say because you don't know. I don't even care to know what I'd be doing in Division I. That really doesn't affect me, I'm just happy with where I'm at. I love my teammates, I love my coaches. That's just something that's hard to compare - you really can't.
CN: I suppose you get asked this a lot - why did you pick Chadron State?
DW: They wanted me. There weren't a lot of schools that really wanted me. I don't know if they were afraid of my size or whatever (Woodhead is 5'9", 200 lbs). There weren't any Division I schools that really wanted me. That was something from the beginning of the recruiting process that I wanted to do is that I wanted to go to a school that wanted me. I didn't want to just have me like it, I wanted them to like me also.
CN: So nobody at Nebraska ever tried to recruit you?
DW:No, not really. I think I got maybe one phone call. I guess they weren't interested.
CN: Were you interested in them?
DW: When I was younger, I was a diehard Nebraska fan. That was a dream for any Nebraska kid to go play football for them. I would have wanted to go there, but that's not how it worked out and I'm happy where I'm at.
CN: Don Beebe came from Chadron, right, so the next obvious question is what about the NFL?
DW: You know, I'm only a junior, I still got another year left and when the times comes to make a decision on that, that's when I'll decide. You ask any college football player that - if they want a chance to go to the next level, but right now that's really not in my mind. When the time comes, I'll go through that process if it happens.
CN:What are you majoring in?
DW: Middle school math and physical education.
CN: So, let's say the NFL doesn't work out, you're looking at teaching?
DW: Teaching and coaching.
CN: Any consideration at all about leaving Chadron?
DW: No. Not at all. I love it here. The guys here are great, so are the coaches. The coaches are awesome.
CN:Thanks for your time, Danny, I might seek you out next year. Good luck with the Harlon Hill trophy.
DW: All right, no problem.
I'll continue to follow Woodhead's career at Chadron State and perhaps the NFL.