No one can ever tell Jackson defensive lineman Jay Woods that he didn't do his homework and research during the recruiting process.
The Peach State defender has had an extremely busy spring and summer, and has things narrowed down to a firm top six.
"This summer, recruiting-wise, I found out which teams wanted me the most and were recruiting me the hardest," said Woods. "I started with a top 11, but narrowed it down to a top six of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Missouri."
When it comes to those six schools, Woods knows exactly why each one has made the cut for his services.
• Georgia - "With UGA, I was born and raised and Georgia and that is how they first caught my eye. It is like home for me and is very close to home. I also love how coach Todd Grantham teaches and coaches that defense. I grew up a big UGA fan, and it is a top-notch academic school. They have a great pharmacy program, and that is what I really want to major in. I have a great relationship with coach (Bryan) McClendon and coach (Rodney) Garner, too. I like everything about it."
• Clemson - "I went up there for a visit and was impressed. They have a really nice campus and it is in a rural, laid back area. I got a chance to see both the football and academic side of things and that was cool. They showed me the Vickery Center where the athletes get tutored and stuff and it was impressive. It is a great atmosphere there."
• Georgia Tech - " I have been to Georgia Tech probably six or seven times and I love the atmosphere and environment. The spring game was my last visit, and they had big crowd with the fans. It surprised me. Coach Andy McCollum and Coach (Joe) Speed are great coaches. Everything has been nice there. Coach McCollum told me I would fit in and they like me at nose guard in their 3-4 defense."
• Vanderbilt - "I visited there on July 8, and the first thing that caught my eye was Nashville and it just feels so big. It feels like twice the size of Atlanta. Some of the coaches were out of town but flew back in to see me when I visited. All the coaches lined up outside to meet me and I thought that was cool. It was a great, big place. They have my major too, and I feel like they have something special because they haven't been at it long and already making a lot of strides with coach James Franklin. I feel like all players get a good amount of playing time."
• Missouri - "I took road trip there in April. It was raining and weather was changing up while I was there so that was only bad thing. Campus was tremendous and they are a top-notch school. The coaches were telling me how they are ranked high academically. It is just a really nice place and I got to see there spring game. They were getting after it and even hitting the quarterback. Sean Witherspoon and William Moore played there and now play with the Falcons so I know they have some great alumni."
• Kentucky - "First and foremost I feel like Kentucky was one of my mom's favorite visit. She loves Lexington and the defensive line coach, coach (David) Turner, because he is a family man. His motto is family first then football next. I feel like if I get away from home, he can be a father figure. The academic side is great because they told me they have one of the top pharmacy programs. The Cat Center, the academic center for the athletes is really cool, too. Another thing that stood out is that coach Turner showed me that the group of defensive linemen have the highest GPA on the team. That is really impressive because that isn't something you see all that often."
The one school that has made up the most ground after offering in late April is Georgia, and a big reason for that has to do with his relationship with a couple of Bulldog coaches.
"I feel like I know Coach McClendon and Coach Garner really well. I feel like my relationship with Coach Garner is really good and he came through here during the spring and was just telling me how he likes how nasty and aggressive I am. He told me he loves my pad level," said Woods. "I first got to know him in the eighth grade when I went to a Mark Richt camp, and he was great then. I fell in love with the way he worked with the players and the way he coaches."
The three-star defensive lineman also sees a great deal of opportunity when he looks at UGA's defensive depth chart.
"I was just telling my brother the other day that I was astounded that they hadn't brought in more linemen," said Woods. "They have defensive linemen there and good ones, but I was just thinking they had more guys there, so that is a big plus. They are recruiting me as a hybrid defensive tackle/defensive end type player, and I am cool with that. I can do that or play nose, really. My defensive line coach has me ready for either position at the next level."
With six schools in consideration, Woods insists that none of those schools lead at this time, but when it comes time to make a decision, he will be keeping his eye on three things.
"First of all, I'll be looking at education. I want to know if they have a good program and if they have my major because football isn't a lifetime sport," said Woods. "The second thing I'll be looking at is my relationship with my defensive line coach. He will be the guy I spend most of my time with, and I want him to make me better and have a great relationship. The last thing is whether or not I can come in as a freshman and make an impact. I know I have to compete, but I want to have the opportunity to come in and make an impact."
At this point, it seems as if the Jackson standout has it all figured out.
That statement, however, is only mostly true, as Woods knows that he will have to pick one of those six schools sometime in the future.
That time, according to the star defender, could come soon.
"I've been talking to my parents and coaches, and I feel I want to make a decision before the season," he said. "I want to get it out of the way so I can focus on the season, so probably sometime in August. I just don't know when yet."
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