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Southern Nash’s Woodard headed to Barton

Posted on May 27, 2022

Updated on May 31, 2022

School SportsSports
Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College. Back row, from left: Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash football head coach Brian Batchelor, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, front row, from left: Angel Stancil and Antonio Woodard.

Contributed Photo

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College. Back row, from left: Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash football head coach Brian Batchelor, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, front row, from left: Angel Stancil and Antonio Woodard.

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard (31) goes for a tackle during a home loss to Northern Nash. Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard (31) goes for a tackle during a home loss to Northern Nash. Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College.

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College. Back row, from left: Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash football head coach Brian Batchelor, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, front row, from left: Angel Stancil and Antonio Woodard.

Contributed Photo

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College. Back row, from left: Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash football head coach Brian Batchelor, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, front row, from left: Angel Stancil and Antonio Woodard.

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard (31) goes for a tackle during a home loss to Northern Nash. Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College.

Sheldon Vick | Special to the Times

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard (31) goes for a tackle during a home loss to Northern Nash. Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College.

Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard (31) goes for a tackle during a home loss to Northern Nash. Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College.
Southern Nash senior Antonio Woodard is committed to play football at Barton College. Back row, from left: Southern Nash athletics director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash football head coach Brian Batchelor, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, front row, from left: Angel Stancil and Antonio Woodard.

aschnittker@wilsontimes.com | 265-7807 | Twitter: @aschnitt53

Though he has only played football through high school, Southern Nash High senior has long dreamed of getting to play a sport at the next level.

That’s no longer just a dream, as the former Firebird will walk on to play football at Barton College next season.

“It felt like I accomplished one of my dreams, and I want to keep striving for more now,” Woodard said.

The Spring Hope native said that staying close to home was important to him, and that he felt a comfort with head coach Chip Hester’s staff at Barton.

“They treated me like family when I first met them,” Woodard said.

Woodard started playing varsity football at Southern Nash in 2020, but head coach Brian Batchelor said his body had not yet matured and developed at that point, and the tight end/defensive end was a bit undersized.

After not playing in the pandemic-shortened 2021 spring season, Woodard returned to the Firebirds for his senior season.

“We started noticing him,” Batchelor said. He started sticking out during summer workouts. I took him aside one day and said ‘You need to get in shape, you’re behind, you haven’t done anything for a year. By the time the second or third week in the season got here, and he had kind of caught up on all the football stuff he had been behind on and getting back in shape, he was a very valuable player for us on defense.”

As a senior, Woodard tallied 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss and three sacks for the Firebirds, and made his impact on and off the field as a leader.

“He meant a lot,” Batchelor said. “Last year I was trying to find guys, who’s eligible, who’s playing, who’s coming back to school? Who’s staying virtual. The biggest thing it meant from a football side was that it was a very valuable, talented guy that we didn’t know we were going to have. It also helped with depth, because all summer long, we were working on depth charts and stuff in the spring, he was the kid that wasn’t on the radar. Then from a program or culture side of it, he was awesome to have at practice and in the locker room. He’s a good kid, he’s got a good personality, he works really hard. He was a good practice guy. He went hard in practice. He was pluses all the way around for us this year.”

As he prepares to move onto the next level, Woodard looks back fondly on his time as a Firebird.

“It’s meant the world to me,” he said. “I loved every single moment of it.”

Woodard, who took a bit of a different path to college football, will be capable of continuing to make his mark on the Southern Nash program even after he’s gone.

He’ll be an example for Batchelor and his staff to point to of what can happen for young players if they dedicate themselves and put in the work they need to.

“His example is unique too, because he kind of did it backwards,” Batchelor said. “He got in academically and then was able to work out a football spot. His situation is definitely neat to be able to point to. A lot of times kids think ‘Well, I didn’t get recruited to play at Alabama, or State didn’t offer me,’ so they think the world’s going to end. They think football at that level’s terrible, and they don’t know. You have to educate them. ‘If you play any level of college football, you’re really, really good.” So he’ll be a good example for our guys to look at that not only did he do it a different way, take a different path to get there, but he’s good enough to play at that level and contribute too.”

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