McCluer South grad Lawrence Woods gets NFL shot with Saints

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ST. LOUIS–Three days and 259 picks came and went in the 2021 NFL Draft last weekend, and Lawrence Woods didn’t hear his name called. He was nervous. The 5-8 cornerback from Truman State via McCluer South-Berkeley was already facing tall odds. He played 2 years of high school football, suffered an ACL injury in college, rehabbed it at the onset of a pandemic, and didn’t play what would have been his senior year in college this spring.

After some reassurance from his agent, good news came. He had an offer as an undrafted free agent from the New Orleans Saints. There was interest from Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Denver. He went with the best offer and landed in ‘Who Dat’ nation.

“I was a wrestler in high school. I liked wrestling more than I liked football, so I wrestled all four years and my best friends got me to come out my senior year and I ended up getting a scholarship to Truman and I ran with it,” Woods told FOX2. Woods was a St. Louis Post-Dispatch Scholar Athlete in 2016.

Woods says what he’s running for now is to fill the spot recently vacated in New Orleans by Justin Hardy, the cornerback and special teams ace who left to sign a free agent deal with the New York Jets.

Decorated as both a cornerback and special teams standout, Woods is slightly built with long legs and plus athleticism. He will need to prove he can handle a bump inside to the slot, where he will see a massive jump in athleticism across from him. He plays with fluid hips in coverage but his eyes lack discipline. While he gets after it as a gunner and has been very productive as a kickoff returner, proving he can stick as a slot corner will be very challenging.

Lawrence Woods NFL Scouting Report by analyst  Lance Zierlein

Woods has relied on the grounding of his mother, his grandparents, and his high school wrestling coach Albert Harrold. As the prospect of declaring for the draft approached, he relied on his college head coach, Gregg Nesbitt, who in turn consulted longtime NFL Defensive Coordinator and Head Coach Gregg Williams about the process. Woods also enlisted the help of another local product who made the leap from a small college football program to the NFL in former U-City lineman Tershawn Wharton, now with Kansas City.

“When we played him, I was like, this guy’s huge…he’s thinking the same thing, man this guys’ fast,” Woods said of seeing Wharton in college at Missouri S&T. “Why he is playing at Truman and I was thinking the same thing, why he’s at S&T. It definitely gives me optimism of me making the roster this fall and being a contribution to the team.”

Woods’ message for the Saints and their fans?

“I’m hungry, I’m hungry I’m telling you I’m ready to come prove myself. There’s a lot of guys who think ‘Oh man he’s just going to be another fly boy, he’s just going to come through and just sit back on the practice field.’ I’m hungry. Y’all don’t understand I’m hungry.”

The first step in proving himself in that journey starts next week with rookie minicamps running May 12-14.

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