Former LHS standout JD Woods sets NAIA rushing record during Baker’s 41-6 win over Clarke

photo by: Contributed photo

Baker senior JD Woods became the NAIA's all-time leading rusher during Baker's 41-6 victory at Clarke University on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Former Lawrence High standout and current Baker University senior JD Woods became the NAIA’s new rushing king on Saturday during 10th-ranked BU’s 41-6 win at Clarke University.

Woods entered the day needing just 24 yards to break the NAIA’s career rushing record of 5,738 yards, set by Walsh University’s Derek Besgrove in 2003, and he eclipsed the mark on a short second-quarter carry.

“When I got it, I just remember looking up to the sky and thinking, ‘Dang, if my grandpa could be here, he’d be smiling,'” Woods said by phone from the Baker bus on the trip home. “It was just a lot of emotions.”

Woods now sits at 5,856 yards and 91 touchdowns for his NAIA career.

The whole experience had a bit of a déjà vu feel for Woods, who, one year ago, became Baker’s all-time leading rusher on the same field against the same opponent.

“That was pretty cool,” Woods said. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Earlier this season, Woods broke the NAIA career touchdown mark, and he’ll be adding to both records the rest of the way as he and his teammates chase a national championship.

Woods rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries during Saturday’s victory and he made sure to give credit to a variety of people after the victory.

From his trainers, Jeff Colter, Kelly Barah and Ray Brown, to his offensive line and the rest of the Baker offense, the current BU coaching staff and former LHS coach Dirk Wedd, Woods said he never would have reached this point without help from all of those people and so many others.

“We’ve been tracking this,” said Woods, noting that he mentioned the record to his trainers this summer. “And I’m not going to lie; it was on my mind today. After I got the record, everybody came up to me and told me great job and things like that and that was cool, but I was like, ‘Thanks, but we’ve got a touchdown to score; let’s go get these points and win this game.'”

In addition to putting in the offseason work required to be ready for his big moment, Woods said there was a fair amount of week-to-week tracking, as well. He said BU coach Jason Thoren kept track of the yards he needed on the white board in his office, and each week the two would change the number to reflect his performance from the most recent game.

Woods now has 567 yards and 14 touchdowns on 89 carries this season.

The wild thing about Saturday’s accomplishment was that Woods almost never reached this point.

After the 2020 season, Woods said he thought he was done with Baker and ready to take a shot at the next level. But the record, the opportunity to make one more run at a national title and the chance to stay connected with a lot of people he loves won out.

“Coming back here was probably the best decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Woods said Saturday. “Records are cool, man, but I just want to give a shout-out to the whole Baker community for welcoming me back and getting me into the right place and the right mindset.”

Next up, Woods and the Wildcats (4-1) will play host to Graceland University at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

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