Woodson to finish what he started

By Ally Rogers

When thinking about UK’s football program over the past decade, it is difficult to ignore the golden child Andre Woodson.

Well, he’s back.

After a three-year hiatus, the former Cats hurler has returned to finish what he started.

“I have come back to finish my bachelor’s degree for communication of agriculture,” Woodson, 26, said. “It feels weird at times being back on campus and having to walk to class, but on the other hand, I get to finish my degree and graduate, so it’s well worth it.”

UK recruited Woodson in 2003. During his freshman season, he served as a backup to Shane Boyd.

In 2005, Woodson was named the starting quarterback. That season, the Cats were 3-8, with Woodson completing nearly 58 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,644 yards. The following year, Woodson had a breakout season — he led the Cats to a 7-5 regular season record and their first bowl win in 22 years. That season, he led the Southeastern Conference in passing yards with 3,515 and became only the second UK quarterback to throw 30 or more touchdowns in a single season.

“He was a great quarterback,” Cassie Fallon, a Wildcat fan and former UK psychology student, said. “He led us to a lot of success.”

In his final season at UK, Woodson left his mark.

On Sept. 22, 2007, he broke Trent Dilfer’s all-time NCAA record of 271 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. In that year’s Music City Bowl, Woodson broke Danny Wuerffel’s SEC record for passing touchdowns in one season with 40, and Jared Lorenzen’s UK record of 78 career touchdown passes.

Before leaving UK, Woodson entered the NFL draft in April 2008 with 9,360 passing yards and a school-record 81 touchdowns. Woodson went undrafted until the sixth round as the 198th overall pick to the New York Giants.

“I left early from college the first time to pursue my dreams of playing in the NFL,” Woodson said. “Unfortunately, those dreams did not play out long, but still, I get to say I lived out my dream and got my chance to play in the NFL.”

The Giants waived Woodson Aug. 30, 2008, during final cuts. One day later they signed him to the practice squad. In September 2009, the Giants cut the quarterback. The next day, the Washington Redskins picked him up. Two months later he was cut.

“It is very difficult making the transition from NCAA to NFL,” Woodson said. “Especially when you move to cities like New York City and (Washington) D.C. It can become overwhelming. Nonetheless the experience and relationships were all worth the ride.”

After taking his talents to the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials, only to be cut less than a year later, Woodson reenrolled at UK for the spring 2011 semester.

He is currently enrolled in 18 hours and plans to take summer courses, leaving him with a full load for the fall.

“I hope to graduate by December if I can complete the remainder of my courses,” Woodson said. “Getting a degree is important to me because it symbolizes that I did what I was supposed to do while attending UK. I want to be able to say I came back and finished my degree, which a lot of student-athletes never do once they are done playing their sport.

I want to take advantage of my opportunity of having a scholarship and make the best of my situation.”

He’s not closing the door on football, however. Upon returning to campus, he rejoined the UK football department as a student assistant coach.

“The UK staff has asked me to be a part of the program and join the staff student coaching and helping out the younger players develop,” Woodson said. “I was more than delighted to join the staff and be a part of the University of Kentucky program again.”

“Just to have his presence around here is helpful,” UK head football coach Joker Phillips said. “A lot of these kids have seen him play recently, and he has been in the NFL. Andre’s awareness of what it takes to get to the next level and what it takes to be a Wildcat makes him that (much) more valuable for us.”

After Woodson graduates he hopes to continue his coaching career, specifically at the collegiate level with sights set on a position at UK.