Last summer, Arkansas football star Mike Woods spoke very openly about his goals for the 2020 season on his own YouTube channel.
Not surprisingly, showing out enough to enter the NFL Draft as soon as possible was one of them.
“I love it here,” he said of Fayetteville. “I want to stay here, but business is business, bro.”
“It ain’t nothing personal,” the wide receiver said. “I’m trying to go to the league. I’m trying to get up out of here.”
“Everybody’s trying to get up out of here, so I don’t really see how y’all could twist my words on that. I hope you don’t.”
“That’s really all of our mindsets.”
Woods ended up having a very good junior season, establishing himself as one of the best deep pass catchers in the SEC by hauling in 29 catches at 19.9 yards per reception and five touchdowns.
Woods played a big role in establishing Arkansas football as one of the nation’s feel-good stories over the course of Sam Pittman’s first year. Although he didn’t play well enough to warrant leaving Arkansas early for the NFL, he did enough to give fans hope that the Arkansas offense is on the verge of a breakout season in 2021.
That hope took a hit today when Woods announced he was ready to leave the program.
Woods Tweeted: “I [thank] God for blessing me with my talents, health, and the position he’s given me,” Woods posted.
“Thank you to the University of Arkansas, my coaches, all of my teammates, and most certainly the state of Arkansas and the Razorbacks fans. I love you all and I am very thankful for the love I have been shown over the past three years. You guys mean so much to me.”
“With that being said, I am entering the transfer portal as a graduate transfer. WP4L.”
Likely aware of rumors that he had clashed with Kenny Guiton, the new position coach with the wide receivers, Woods posted this a few hours later:
Want to make one thing clear. Coach guiton and the coaching staff were nothing but great to me. Showed nothing but love. Me and coach Guiton actually go back further than y’all think. He is my guy! Great coach, better man. So stop throwing hate his way. This was not personal.— WOODVILLE. (@TheMikeWoods) April 20, 2021
He added: “Arkansas is in GREAT hands with coach Pittman and his staff.”
“The wideouts are in great hands with coach Guiton. I will still and always will root for this state and University. Thank you for welcoming me and allowing me to be a part of your family.
Mike Woods talked about his desire to leave Arkansas football early here:
Mike Woods Transfer: Ranks Up There In Shock Value
This is one of most unexpected Razorback transfers ever involving the Hogs’ football, baseball or basketball programs.
By all accounts, including his own, Woods was enjoying a great relationship with Razorback fans and the program.
Mike Woods had a good spring practice, Tweeting out: “My last spring and last spring game. Bittersweet feeling. Love this state and fan base and all the love you guys show me. Much appreciated Hog Nation.”
Plus, in the last year, he’d built up a YouTube subscriber base of thousands of Arkansas football fans. It seemed like he had found a perfect home for the personal brand he was building. Unlike the situation with Desi Sills in basketball, hardly anybody expected this announcement to be coming.
No doubt, Woods’ absence will hurt the Hogs in 2021.
“You don’t replace someone like that, Pig Trail Network’s Ty Hudson said.
“He walked into a program that was – let’s be honest – a dumpster fire and got through to the other side pretty clean. Now folks talk about him being a possible NFL Draft pick whereas that was not the case going into Year 3.”
While it’s not 100% Woods is gone yet (Devin Bush, after all, returned to the program after entering the transfer portal last year), it’s essentially a done deal.
So, where could Mike Woods end up?
Since spring football is already over, it’s probable Woods already has a couple destinations in mind. Regardless, if it’s a big-time program, he’s going to have a fight in front of him during fall camp to win a regular spot.
“Not saying it’s impossible,” Hudson said. “I think he’s talented enough, he could go somewhere and make an impact. I don’t know that it would be the same as if he stuck it out for his final year at the University of Arkansas. I hope he’s thinking that through. I’m sure he has.”
At this point, his destination is speculation, but wherever he ends up it should be an upgrade to Arkansas in terms of national competitiveness and coaches with a proven track record to produce NFL wide receivers.
Oklahoma, for instance, would make a lot of sense.
Its important fans realize Woods wants to expand his personal brand and, it’s safe to assume, bank off of the coming NIL laws. The Sooners would allow him to reach a fanbase that is significantly larger.
Consider that the Arkansas football Twitter account is 317,000 followers while the Oklahoma football account is 612,000 followers.
But the team that would even more sense is Arkansas’ traditional rival, Texas.
And not just because the Longhorns’ new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who while at Alabama put a projected four wide receivers into the NFL Draft first round, with DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle following Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy.
Mike Woods Talks About Loving Texas Football Growing Up
Back in August, 2020, Woods hopped onto YouTube with his girlfriend to discuss his background and perhaps provide a glimpse into where he would head if he left the Arkansas football program.
Things get especially interesting when Woods starts talking about his home state of Texas. He’s from Magnolia, which is about 50 miles southeast of College Station.
So, when it comes to the SEC team he’d most like to beat, he doesn’t hesitate: Texas A&M.
“We owe them and they’re literally like 40 minutes down the road from my house back home. And everybody from where I’m from goes to Texas A&M. For sure, it’s the team I really want to beat really bad.”
“And we [likely] get to play at Kyle Field this year. I always wanted to play there. We always played them in Cowboys Stadium. So it would be pretty cool to beat him at home.”
Growing up, Woods never really had any love for Texas A&M. The same, unfortunately, can’t be said about the University of Texas.
“Arkansas fans, y’all gonna hate me for this, but Texas was my dream school because that’s where I’m from.”
“I’m not from Austin, but Texas was my dream school coming up and I was just getting in fights with people because everybody was for Texas A&M. So we had a big clash, but now you all see who I’m rocking with.”
“…I was a super fan. My room growing up was painted burnt orange. I had a Longhorns trash can in it. I had a Longhorns mini helmet. Man, I had Longhorn footballs, Longhorn stickers on the wall. I had Vince Young on the wall, man I was a Longhorn’ed out back then.”
Arkansas vs Texas Ain’t What It Used To Be
No doubt, Arkansas’ hatred towards Texas doesn’t burn as white hot as it did in the SWC days, when Arkansas annually played at the Longhorns (and all other big Texas schools).
A couple generations of Hog fans only know SEC-era Arkansas — they have no memories of those annual showdowns. On top of that, a much larger percentage of Arkansas students are Texans now than 30 years ago. Woods himself is an example.
The main reason he came Arkansas was a) he wanted to play in the SEC and b) he originally committed to Chad Morris at SMU, but followed Morris to Arkansas. (Chad Morris, after destroying the Gus Malzahn era at Auburn, now coaches high school ball in Texas.
There is a groundswell of Arkansas fans who are increasingly sick of the SEC treating the Razorbacks like doormats or booty bands, and want to see Arkansas leave for the Big 12 (home to closer one-time rivals and potential rivals like Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor).
If Woods actually leaves for Texas, then there will be an immediate infusion of white-hot rivalry vibe into the upcoming September 11 Arkansas vs Texas showdown in Fayetteville.
Mike Woods would set all kinds of records for views on YouTube channel in the runup to that game, as Hog fans — disappointed as they are — will still be keen to find out more about why he left and what he thinks about his return.
Perhaps this — or something like this with another huge football program — is part of his calculation around leaving what seemed to be a great situation in Arkansas.
Otherwise, it makes very little sense.
See Pig Trail Network’s Ty Hudson break down the situation in real time with fans below.
At 13:20: He talks about the rumors of Woods going to Oklahoma at 13:20.
At 14:20: On the possibility Mike Woods left to find an upgrade at the quarterback position over KJ Jeffferson and Malik Hornsby
Mike Woods’ favorite NFL receivers
Mike Woods‘ favorite pre-game music
“I got a pregame playlist. It’s rap, hip hop, but it got Moneybagg Yo, Kodak Black…. Young Nudy, that’s my favorite rapper, you know he on there. Future, D Moolah… Key Glock on there. Everybody on there, bro, I just put it on shuffle and rock out.”
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