Calgary's Anthony Woodson's dream of pro football career coming true
WINNIPEG - He's got the pedigree, moves and desire and it looks like they're coming together at the right time for Anthony Woodson to land a spot with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
A running back with the hands of a receiver, he has already caught the eye of coach Paul LaPolice, who likes what the 2010 fourth-round draft pick brings to the table.
"We were excited about Anthony Woodson when we drafted him," LaPolice said after watching the Calgary native in rookie camp. "We thought he was a talented player. He's a great kid who's already got his degree (in business) and is really somebody I think is a good athlete, so he's an impressive looking kid.''
Those words brought a wide grin to the 24-year-old Woodson's face.
"It definitely makes me feel good," he said. "Since I was 10 years old and started playing football in peewee, . . . it's been my dream to play pro football. To actually be here, be a step away from making a pro football team, that's huge."
His father was Tony Woodson, a linebacker who played one season with the NFL's Denver Broncos and five seasons in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Rough Riders.
Then there's older second-cousin and cornerback Charles Woodson. He's won just about every award that counts at college or in the NFL and signed a US$55-million contract extension a couple of years ago with the Green Bay Packers at the age of 33.
It hasn't been a swift journey for the younger Woodson, as he looks for a path to achieve his own pro football dream. A series of injuries haven't helped but he also decided to stay at university to finish his degree.
His trip started well enough. With the Calgary Dinos, Woodson led the Canada West Conference in rushing in 2007 with 1,183 yards.
He was a Canada West all-star and second team All-Canadian. But in 2008 he missed five regular-season games with broken ribs. He missed all of the 2009 season after surgery to repair a torn shoulder and a broken foot.
He was also named to Team Canada for the 2011 Senior Menís World Championship but missed that tournament due to injury as well.
Not surprisingly, his training has focused on a little preventative maintenance.
"This year, it's been more a focus on physio, athletic therapy, yoga, more pro-active things to prevent injury because, with my history, I have been hurt quite a bit in the past," he said.
But the six-foot, 210-pound Woodson hasn't ignored the elements needed to excel on the field, either.
"I still have a high focus on speed training, explosive training and getting the weights in there as well,'' he said.
Woodson spent mini-camp with the Bombers at receiver and slotback before being moved to tailback in training camp.
"They kind of wanted to give me a look everywhere on the field and I think tailback will be my main focus, other than specials,'' he said.
Woodson is under no illusion about where he'll start, if he makes the team.
"I think it will be specials for sure,'' he said.
Growing up, he played a lot on defence and at tailback before seeing action at receiver and slotback in university. That certainly gives the Bombers plenty of options with Woodson.
"I got a little bit of versatility under my belt,'' he said.