The Texas Longhorns added a second wide receiver to the 2018 recruiting class on Saturday in landing a pledge from Houston Lamar’s Al’vonte Woodard, who will provide head coach Tom Herman with a credible deep threat on the outside.
At 6’2 and 193 pounds, Woodard projects as a flanker in college, a position where he would benefit from the need for opponents to decide how to devote safety resources.
Are there two deep safeties or only one deep safety? Is that safety shaded towards the X receiver to the boundary? Is there a safety cheating towards the line of scrimmage in run support?
If the ‘Horns can manufacture favorable match ups for Woodard against a cornerback with no safety help, he has a chance to become an impact player in college because of his verified 4.52 speed in the 40 and ability to get open on vertical routes.
The Lamar product can also run a 4.26 shuttle and record a 34-inch vertical leap — he’s an excellent athlete.
When opponents failed to provide adequate safety help against Woodard during his breakout junior season, he often made them pay. And though he wasn’t especially productive in terms of his volume of catches with 35 receptions in 2016, he did average 22.6 yards per catch and turned 40 percent of those receptions into touchdowns.
That’s the essence of a big-play threat, so it’s not surprising to see Woodard excel on go routes and post routes in high school. On many plays, he’s simply out-classing the high school cornerbacks faced with defending him — Woodard is a guy who makes it look easy to create big plays.
The fact that he’s excellent at tracking the ball and understanding how to set up defensive backs to create a little bit of extra separation just before the ball arrives helps facilitate that impression when watching Woodard on film.
Another positive for the national top-100 prospect is that he consistently attacks the ball outside the framework of his body, which helps ensure that he doesn’t drop catchable passes and can finish plays in traffic.
There’s some talk that Woodard has shown a greater ability to run a complete route tree during camp season than he did as a junior at Lamar, which would be a positive for position coach Drew Mehringer. However, questions still remain about whether Woodard can become a complete wide receiver from that standpoint, though it is a positive that he was effective in the red zone last season.
And there’s still a chance to put more on film as a senior.
The other question mark is whether Woodard has any dynamic qualities after the catch, something that doesn’t show up on junior film.
If Woodard can translate most of his game-breaking ability to college as a deep threat, his current ranking as the nation’s No. 10 wide receiver will be justified. In that scenario, any ability to make plays in other areas of the game creating separation on other routes or picking up yards after the catch will be a bonus for the ‘Horns.
It would be a bit easier to favorably project Woodard into former offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s vertically obsessed veer-and-shoot offense, but there’s no doubt that Woodard is a high-level athlete with an equally high-level ability to get open down the field.
That’s legitimate cause for celebration on a summer Saturday in July.
Oh yeah, and the Aggies really wanted him, too.
Al'vonte Woodard will bring big-play ability to the Texas offense
Tom Herman and the Texas coaching staff were excited on Saturday following the pledge of No. 10 wide receiver Al'vonte Woodard. For good reason. #RevolUTion18Posted by Burnt Orange Nation on Saturday, July 15, 2017