Donovan and D’Juan Woods grew up competing with and against older brother Rashaun.
That competition led the three Woods brothers to Oklahoma State where they provide stiff competition for Big 12 Conference opponents.
D’Juan said the brotherly competition allowed the three to reach the collegiate and professional levels in football.
“We always had someone to compete against,” D’Juan said. “During the summer, while everyone else would be sitting in the air conditioning, we would be out playing and pushing each other, and so while everyone would stay the same, we continued to get better. It’s hard to get friends to go along and workout, but living in the same house there was always someone to work out with.”
Rashaun completed his final collegiate season with 77 catches for 1,367 yards and 15 touchdowns and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. D’Juan, a sophomore, has followed in his footsteps as the Cowboys’ top receiver and Donovan, a redshirt freshman, won the quarterback position in preseason practice.
Last season, D’Juan learned next to his older brother and finished as Oklahoma State’s second-leading receiver with 31 catches for 479 yards and one touchdown. He said watching his brother enabled him to take the next step in becoming the go-to receiver.
“He was my visual aid. I was able to look up to him,” D’Juan said. “I was able to have someone to learn from and I knew he’d do it right. He gave me someone I could try to exemplify.”
This season, D’Juan is the main target of Donovan’s passes and leads the Cowboys with 15 catches for 272 yards and four touchdowns.
As Donovan redshirted last season and prepared for his opportunity to lead the Cowboys, he also learned from his brothers, even though they play different positions.
“Just to see the way they compete,” Donovan said. “I mean it’s still football, and I was able to watch how they accomplished something and the way they competed and went about their business.”
After losing Rashaun and trying to ease the transition their redshirt freshman quarterback was making to college football, the Cowboys have focused their offense around the running game and Vernand Morency.
The decision has worked as the Cowboys began the season with five wins before losing to Texas A&M last week. Donovan was able to get confidence in running their offense. Through six games, he has attempted only 72 passes, completing 41 for 726 yards. But he has made limited mistakes, throwing only two interceptions, against eight touchdowns. He also showed his athleticism, rushing 48 times for 142 yards and six touchdowns. But more importantly to the brothers and the Cowboys, Oklahoma State has had success in the win column.
“I’m all right with it. It’s always good to win and as long as we continue to do that it’s fine with me,” Donovan said.
D’Juan said his brother is continuing to progress each week and that is shown with Oklahoma State’s success.
“He has progressed great, coming in as a freshman quarterback and winning his first five games,” he said. “What more can you ask for?”
Cowboys coach Les Miles would not ask for more from his quarterback, who he said does have the ability to win games by passing.
“I think Donovan is capable and his progress is good,” Miles said. “With age and comfort, he will just continue to improve exponentially.
“He’s one of those as the year goes on, will just say, ‘Wow, he’s improved.’ And that will just come with more confidence.”
That confidence continues to come for Donovan as he gets more opportunities and gains comfort with the Oklahoma State receivers. He said there is no special connection on the field between him and D’Juan.
“We do so much work with all the receivers that we’re all on the same page,” Donovan said about the comfort level he feels with the receiving corps.
Donovan agreed that there is no extra comfort on the field; he said he knew his brother would find him when the two connected for a 53-yard touchdown on Oct. 9 against Colorado.
“When he threw it to me against Colorado, I knew he was going to throw it,” D’Juan said. “And I knew that he knew I was open and it was within his reads. He won’t break his reads … the coaches come up with a great scheme and we don’t deviate from it.”
Although they claim no special connection on the field, the brothers admitted that having family in the OSU program helped lead them to Stillwater, Ok.
“I didn’t get the opportunity to play with him (Rashaun) in high school and saw that I could have that opportunity here,” D’Juan said.
After making his decision to play with a brother, D’Juan said he did not pressure his younger sibling to follow.
“It was his decision,” he said. “Wherever he wanted to go, we would have been OK with, but it’s great that he came here.”
Donovan agreed that his brothers did not pressure him, but they didn’t have too, either.
“They understood I had to make my own decision and live my own life, but they wanted me to be up here along,” Donovan said. “It affected me a little bit to have the opportunity to go somewhere where I had someone as close as a brother.”