Charles Woodson was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, a two-time All-American, and in 1997 earned awards as the nation's best defensive back and best overall defensive player. He also became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.
Michigan led Ohio State 7-0 in the second quarter of their 1997 showdown when Woodson caught a punt at the U-M 22.
He ran to his left, and then cut sharply upfield at the 25, splitting two would-be tacklers.
He picked up several key blocks as he weaved through traffic between the 30 and 50-yard lines, and then raced down the left sideline to complete a 78-yard touchdown run before being mobbed by his appreciative teammates.
Charles Woodson gained high school All-America honors primarily due to his offensive skills. Nevertheless, Michigan head coach Gary Moeller wanted Woodson as a cornerback. But at one point in his recruitment, Moeller – worried that Woodson would select one of the numerous schools seeking him as a runner – told the recruit that he could play running back if he wished. But Woodson knew where he belonged, and he insisted on being a college corner. His judgment proved correct.
As a junior, Woodson's two-way play was a key factor in Michigan's 1997 national championship season. He intercepted eight passes, including key thefts against Ohio State and Washington State; returned 36 punts for an 8.4-yard average, including the key touchdown against OSU; and he gained 259 yards rushing and receiving while scoring three touchdowns.
Text: Mike Rosenbaum. Photos: Jeff Schrier/MHP.
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