SEWARD, Neb. – Postseason recognition continues to pour in for Concordia senior safety Darnell Woods. On Wednesday he received his most prestigious honor as the American Football Coaches’ Association named Woods to its official NAIA All-America first team. The native of Phoenix, Ariz., was also named a first team All-American by Beyond Sports Network less than a week ago.
Woods, the 2013 GPAC Defensive Player of the Year, was called “the best player in our league at any position” by Concordia fifth-year head coach Vance Winter. Woods led the Bulldogs with 88 total tackles in 2013 despite missing one game due to injury. His tackle total topped all GPAC defensive backs and marked a career high.
Woods’ inclusion on the AFCA All-America team marks the second-straight year that Concordia has had representation on the exclusive list. Then Bulldog senior kicker Kenny Zoeller earned a spot on the All-America team in 2012 after drilling a school record 15 field goals. Woods is one of three GPAC players named to this year’s All-America first team.
With Woods serving as a punishing force in the secondary, the Bulldogs enjoyed their first winning season since 2001 and ranked as one of the top defensive units in the NAIA. Concordia’s defense led the NAIA in pass defense (134.7) while ranking fifth in total defense (285.5) and fifth in scoring defense (17.0). The Bulldogs did not allow a rushing touchdown until the seventh game of the season, went three-straight games without giving up a touchdown (Sept. 25 – Oct. 12) and surrendered more than 300 total yards only twice all season.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Woods finished his Concordia career with 190 tackles, six interceptions, nine pass break ups and one interception return for a touchdown in 30 games over the last three seasons.
The D2 vs. NAIA Challenge game on Saturday in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will allow Woods another opportunity to showcase his talents. He accepted an invite to play in the game along with others who are regarded as some of the best players at the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels.
Selection Process: The AFCA’s NAIA All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA’s nine districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the team is chosen.