MORGANTOWN - J.D. Woods caught a short pass from Geno Smith in a team drill earlier this week, made a quick fake to the outside and curled back inside and picked up close to 50 yards on the play.
It was the kind of play that, if wide predictions come true, will be fairly commonplace in West Virginia's offense this season. A team that at last glance was scoring 70 points against Clemson in the Orange Bowl is expected to routinely gobble up huge chunks of yardage.
But from J.D. Woods?
Sure, from Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey. Perhaps even from freshman Jordan Thompson or any of a number of running backs.
But the day before Woods made that play in a Monday practice, he was stuck so low on the depth chart that the only way it seemed he might see a play like that was to buy a ticket. Now he was the source.
"Out of sight, out of mind,'' offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "He was on the scout team. We couldn't waste reps on a guy that we didn't know whether he'd even be here.''
The problem with Woods was never a lack of ability. After all, by the end of last season he was right there in the mix. He started the regular-season finale against South Florida and then that Orange Bowl rout of Clemson.
But he was also in such a deep academic hole this summer that almost no one believed he would be around beyond the end of summer school classes, which stretched into the first week of football practice. He practiced, yes, but the coaches weren't willing to take him seriously. Thus his spot with the scout team.
But then on Monday he became a part of what coach Dana Holgorsen called "the first miracle of the season.'' None of the handful of Mountaineers who were thought to be in danger of academic demise turned out that way. All got their work done in the classroom, including Woods.
And when he did, it was with a sigh of relief and his old status back as one of the choices in West Virginia's fairly deep stable of receivers.
Not that Woods spends much time dwelling on it. In fact, he pretty much refuses to address his academic issues, instead preferring to look forward.