Utah State University’s defense finished the season tied for 1st in the nation in turnovers gained (32), scoring 289 points for an average of 22.2 points per game. This may be the best defense ever seen in Cache Valley. With current stars and up-and-coming stars like Tipa Galeai, Chase Christiansen, DJ Williams, Deante Fortenberry, Jontrell Rocquemore, Aaron Wade, and Shaq Bond, the vaunted Aggie defense was feared around the Mountain West. But the most feared Aggie defender this year was redshirt sophomore David Woodward. Woodward stands at 6’2″ and 235 pounds and hits like a freight train. Not only does he hit hard, but he hits everything, seeming to be everywhere on the field, and in on every hit.
Woodward came to Utah State in 2016 after earning All-Area Football Player of the Year and the Male Athlete of the Year by The Olympian as a senior at Olympia High School, where he played running back and defensive back. As a redshirt freshman, David played in 10 games, only starting one, against Air Force. The Washington native made the most of limited reps racking up 29 tackles, a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery that he took 70 yards for a defensive touchdown.
Woodward would begin the 2018 season as the starter at inside backer alongside senior Chase Christiansen. Week 1 against Michigan State Woodward recorded 16 tackles, with only 2 of those solos. He added 2 QB hits onto that. While he looked slightly underwhelming the first game, his season would go much better after Week 1. Even with missing a game due to a concussion, Woodward finished the season with 134 tackles with 52 of those unassisted. Woodward also recorded 5 sacks and 12 TFLs, racking up 50 yards of loss. The linebacker would record a game-high 20 tackles in a close win at Colorado State.
David Woodward is not just a tackling machine, he is also excellent in coverage. Coming out of highschool as a DB has helped Woodward as an ILB. Having a background in coverage has given him elite coverage linebacker skills. David finished the year with 3 pass break ups and 2 interceptions, taking one of those INTs 17 yards to within the 10 yard line.
Woodward raked in the awards this season, earning accolades such as PFF College
Mountain West Player of the Year, PFF First Team All-American, Second Team All-Mountain West, Multiple Mountain West Team of the Week spots, and finished the season not only the highest rated LB in the nation, but as the highest rated LB ever in the PFF College Era (2014-present).
While Woodward received little national recognition this season, he stacks up with some of the countries’ best. David recorded 9 more tackles than LSU’s Devin White, who is projected to be a Top 10 pick in the 2019 Draft. He had exactly twice as many as Devin Bush, another projected first-rounder out of Michigan, who played only 7 games. David is as sophomore with 2 more years of eligibility, leaving him more than plenty time to grow. Possibly into the best linebacker in college football.