CORVALLIS — If we're giving credit where credit is due, then it's important to note that former Oregon State star Jacquizz Rodgers called it.
One of the most beloved running backs in Oregon State football history, Rodgers said on Twitter at the start of Beavers' fall camp, amid questions about who would start at running back, that he believed the nod would go to Storm Woods, OSU's redshirt freshman from Pflugerville, Texas.
Turns out he was right.
OSU coach Mike Riley announced Thursday that Woods would be the guy, ending months of speculation. Woods entered camp with sophomore Malcolm Agnew (89 carries for 423 yards and five touchdowns in 2011), sophomore Terron Ward (63 carries for 211 yards, 1 touchdown), senior Jordan Jenkins (19 carries for 42 yards, no touchdowns) and true freshman Chris Brown, but emerged at the top in less than three weeks.
"He's the starting back," said Riley when asked if Woods would be the premier back or just the first one on the field in a committee situation. "We had a real good battle, Malcolm and Terron were right there "… it's from months of evaluation. (Storm's) played well. There's no specific thing, it's just performance overall."
Woods looked like the leader in spring, too, but there were questions about how well he knew the playbook. That's no longer a concern.
"I have a great grasp on it," Woods said. "Jenks has been a huge help. He told me the tricks to help the playbook just flow, the lingo and everything, so I know it inside and out."
Now that there's a clear(er) cut depth chart — Riley said Ward, Agnew and Jenkins will all travel, and that Brown will redshirt — all eyes will be on Woods. Riley has said he'd like the ground game to total 1,800 yards, a big improvement from the 1,043 stat in 2011. OSU has not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2010, when Rodgers totaled 1,184.
Woods was visibly surprised on Thursday, having heard the news just minutes before the media. When he spoke to reporters there was no hiding the smile stretching ear to ear.
"I'm still soaking it in," he said. "I ran with the ones (first unit) today so I sort of figured something was up, but you never know "… it just goes to show hard work pays off."
Woods tweaked his right ankle at practice Wednesday, which caused a little bit of worry on his part. He joked that he got treatment in the training room "about five times" on Wednesday to make sure he was OK, and said Thursday that he felt great.
Fans were thrilled when Woods signed with OSU, believing he could be the next great back from Texas for the Beavers. It was an expectation Rodgers made clear, too, and Woods said there was some playful criticism from Rodgers when Woods didn't contribute as a true freshman like he had.
"I haven't talked to Quizz since the spring, but he's always giving me a hard time, telling me, 'Man you redshirted last year,'" Woods said. "He's hard on me, but he just told me to keep grinding and come away with that spot. 'That's how we do it in Texas,' that's what he told me."
Now comes the hard part.
"Malcolm Agnew, Terron and Jenks, all of those guys are great," Woods said. "I'm going to have to make no mistakes, take care of the ball, run hard, catch everything and block great so I can keep the starting position."