The Star is counting down the top high school football players in Southern Arizona. Up today: Canyon del Oro star lineman Sa’Kylee Woodard.
Name: Sa’Kylee Woodard
Rundown: Woodard is a 6-foot-3-inch, 290-pound sophomore at Canyon del Oro.
Who he is: Over the summer, Woodard spent much of his time playing with — and against — some of the best competition the West Coast has to offer.
After trips to several elite football camps including the Under Armour All-American camp, Football University camp, and a Rivals camp held in Los Angeles, the Tucson native used his summer to gauge where his skill level is at.
The CDO standout has earned a high level of praise even after just one year in high school. Last season, his coach Dustin Peace went as far as to say Woodard will be a four-year defensive force in Southern Arizona — and that was even before the behemoth played his first snap on varsity.
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Woodard’s recent showcasing at the prestigious combines reaffirmed the belief he has in himself to be one of the best linemen in Arizona and also narrowed down the skills he wants to hone in his first full year of high school football.
“I’m very strong for my age. I’m really good with my hands, my footwork is good,” Woodard said. “I’m always in the gym.”
Conversely, the star sophomore developed an awareness about an area he wants to improve in.
“I need to work on getting low,” he said. “Not just being low, but being consistently low. Doing it when I’m tired, not coming straight up.”
‘Being low’ refers to Woodard technique as a D-lineman in his pre-snap stance and then using the torque of his lower body to thrust himself to break free from the grip of the opposing offensive line.
At 6-3, Woodard’s upper body frame towers over other team’s lineman, but utilizing his lower body strength is what the CDO standout thinks could take his game to the next level.
Something new Woodard has incorporated into his workouts recently is CrossFit training in addition to weight training. The combination of the two, Woodard explained, is helping him gain the right kind of muscle for his position and shed a few extra pounds to be more nimble.
“I weigh 290 right now and my goal is to be 285 during the season,” he said.
With just four games in his freshman season, Woodard felt like he didn’t get a full opportunity to prove that he’s one of the best talents on defense in the state.
“This year is just like my statement season,” Woodard said. “I have a lot to prove this year.”
Proof he’s good: Even after just four games of tape in 2020, Woodard’s performance caught the attention of Arizona Wildcats offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll. The UA assistant coach offered Woodard his first collegiate scholarship in April.
“It’s just a blessing,” Woodard said. “For them to have faith in me and think I can play DI football is just amazing.”
Surely, more and more programs will now start to take note of Woodard’s raw strength and skill, and that’s a motivating factor for the Dorado sophomore heading into the season.
“Now that I got my first offer, it’s amazing and it’s something I think that I can just continue to get better and earn bigger offers,” he said.
Canyon del Oro opens its season Friday against Salpointe Catholic.
He said it: “People expect a lot from me and I’m going to bring that to them because I want to be great and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be great.” — Woodard
Contact sports producer Alec White at 573-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @alecwhite_UA