Former first-round pick Rashaun Woods made a big mark on Oklahoma football. Why would he leave?
Rashaun Woods has been a part of Oklahoma’s football scene for the better part of three decades.
Coming from one of the state's first families of football, he starred at Millwood High School and Oklahoma State, then after a short professional career came back, started coaching and ultimately became the head coach at John Marshall and Enid. He even spent time commentating on football on local radio.
But now, Woods is leaving Oklahoma.
Woods is headed to the Lone Star State to become the football coach at Tyler High School, pending school board approval Tuesday morning. A press conference in the east Texas city to formally introduce Woods is scheduled for later Tuesday.
“This is part of the process,” Woods said in an interview with The Oklahoman of his decision to leave Oklahoma. “Oklahoma has been really good to me, but at the same time … I’ve really pushed to get in certain situations that maybe weren’t there for me or it just wasn’t my time.
“So, just trying to take advantage of the opportunities when I can.”
In moving to Tyler, Woods takes over a program that has not only decades of tradition but also more recent success.
Tyler High School, previously known as John Tyler High, has won three state football titles in school history. It has also produced a long line of college and professional greats, most notably 1977 Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell.
Many in Oklahoma also know Tyler for a couple of alums who became standouts at Oklahoma State: Kendall Hunter and Ricklan Holmes.
Holmes actually returned to Tyler as an assistant in 2007, then became head coach in 2012. He led Tyler to eight playoff appearances in the past 11 seasons, going to the semifinals twice and the quarterfinals two other times.
Holmes resigned in December, saying he wanted to pursue other opportunities.
Even though Holmes and Woods played together at OSU, Woods said their relationship didn’t factor into his decision to apply for the job.
Instead, after finishing his fourth season at Enid, Woods decided to apply for jobs in particular geographical areas.
“Just trying to look in a certain area that I thought was within the range of my family that lived in Texas,” he said. “Also my wife’s (family).”
Woods wasn’t considering any jobs in Tyler initially.
“It was right there kind of on the edge of where we wanted to be,” he said. “That’s why I was a little hesitant. But with that being said, I knew the program and tradition.”
He also knew the facilities were good and the community was passionate. Woods decided to apply but felt like he did so late in the process.
When Tyler administrators contacted him, though, he jumped at the chance to meet with them.
“The possibilities of being able to continue to do what I love and then continue to help kids realize their dreams is really the passion,” he said. “Wherever I’m able to do that at a high level is where I want to be. So Tyler checks all the boxes as far as my calling, me doing what I love.”
The immediate expectations for success will be higher at Tyler than at either of Woods’ first two head coaching jobs. When he took over John Marshall and Enid, both were struggling and rebuilding. Even though Tyler has only had one winning season in the past four years, its storied tradition will likely raise expectations.
That doesn’t worry Woods.
“I’ve cut my teeth in some of the most difficult situations possible,” he said. “There’s nothing now that can overwhelm me from a mental standpoint, and I’m excited about the possibilities of turning a tradition-rich program around.
“I’m fired up about it.”
Even if it means leaving Oklahoma.