April 1, 2015
- Reid-Wooods News Conference Transcripts
- 2015 UI Football Spring Camp Central
- Read the April issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- 2015 Signing Day Central Page
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone/iPad app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye android app
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — LeVar Woods played scout team tight end as a redshirt freshman at the University of Iowa in 1997. Now he is coaching the position at the same place he affectionately calls Tight End U.
Woods is in his eighth season on the Hawkeye football coaching staff; he spent the last three as linebackers coach. On Wednesday he completed his fourth practice as tight ends coach.
“It’s a new era for me,” Woods said Wednesday at a news conference in the All-American Room of the Hansen Football Performance Center. “Aside from quarterback, there isn’t a position on the field that has to know more, because you’re involved in the pass game, run game, and hot routes versus blitzes. You have to catch and you have to run. There is a lot that goes into it.”
Woods was a two-year starter at outside linebacker for the Hawkeyes (1999-2000), compiling 165 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and four sacks. He played 88 games in the National Football League with Arizona, Chicago, Detroit, and Tennessee.
Early in his college playing career, UI coaches toyed with the idea of moving Woods from linebacker to tight end. As a true freshman, he admitted that offensive lineman Ross Verba “destroyed me every day.” The following season Woods played special teams and was not a factor on defense, so he saw plenty of practice time as scout team tight end.
“That’s where I became a better defensive player because I learned what the offensive player was doing to the defensive guy to block him or how he was working on releases,” Woods said. “If it didn’t work out on defense, they were going to look at me going to tight end. It worked out, so the rest is history.”
And Iowa’s history of producing top tight ends is well documented. Now Woods will play a larger role in spawning the next C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Brandon Myers, Scott Chandler, or Dallas Clark.
“I get the opportunity to coach tight ends at one of the greatest schools for tight ends in the country. There’s a reason Iowa is known as `Tight End U,’ and I get the opportunity to coach one of the best positions at the greatest university in the country.”
UI tight ends coach
That’s one reason Woods transitioned from shock when head coach Kirk Ferentz delivered news of a coaching position switch in February, to excitement.
“I get the opportunity to coach tight ends at one of the greatest schools for tight ends in the country,” Woods said. “There’s a reason Iowa is known as `Tight End U,’ and I get the opportunity to coach one of the best positions at the greatest university in the country.”
Woods spent time in the offseason picking the brain of Florida State tight ends coach Tim Brewster, who was head coach at Minnesota from 2007-10. Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary won the 2014 John Mackey Award. Woods has also spent time talking about the position with Ferentz and Hawkeye assistants Brian Ferentz (who coached tight ends for the New England Patriots), offensive coordinator Greg Davis, Chris White, and Bobby Kennedy.
“It’s not much different than playing linebacker,” Woods said. “You’re still doing the same thing: inside hands win, run on your knees. As far as pass routes, it’s basically the opposite. Everything you teach someone on defense, you teach the opposite on offense.”
Woods inherits three tight end letterwinners: seniors Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger Coble, and junior George Kittle. Last season Duzey was third on the team with 36 receptions for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Krieger Coble caught three passes for 28 yards and two touchdowns and Kittle had one reception for 25 yards.
“There are five guys in the room right now and all five of those guys are exceptional young men and not just football players or students,” Woods said. “I get to deal with really good people.”
Woods called the Hawkeye tight ends “highly skilled” and he wants them to be more aggressive blocking in the run game.
“On the defensive side I always hated but respected from the tight end is a guy that is physical and will knock your head off coming off the line of scrimmage,” Woods said. “That’s what I want the Iowa tight ends to be.”