Photo by Chris McCarthy/Messenger
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
A pair of Gadsden City seniors solidified their respective futures last Wednesday (Dec. 16).
On the NCAA’s Early National Signing Day, offensive tackle Rod Orr (pictured above) signed with Florida State, while receiver J.C. Woods (pictured at lower left) inked with the University of North Ala-bama. The ceremony was held virtually from the GCHS library.
Orr, who committed to FSU earlier in the fall, was heavily recruited by Division I programs such as Missouri, Minnesota, Oregon, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Syracuse, Tennessee, Troy and Kansas.
“I’m just glad I’m getting to experience what my brother did when he signed with Jacksonville [State] a few years ago,” he said. “It feels really good. The [Florida State] coaching staff treated me like family, just like my coaches do now.”
The Seminoles currently are 3-6 overall and 2-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
GCHS head football coach Ali Smith noted that Orr was more inclined toward basketball than the gridiron when he first arrived on the GCHS campus.
“So, Rod didn’t spend a lot of time in the weight room; he played football just to play,” said Smith. “Once he realized that football could take him to a higher level, he bought into it. I think that Rod is just right now learning how to play football. A problem that we encountered in the past was having guys thinking that it wasn’t cool to play on the offensive line, and Rod has made it ‘cool’ around here to play that position.”
Woods’s production last year included 32 receptions for 351 yards and five touchdowns.
“I’m excited about going to the next level and showing people what I can do,” said Woods, who plans on majoring in physical education. “I’ve loved playing football since I was little, and I just set my goals high and tried to reach them.”
UNA, a member of the Division I Big South Conference went 0-4 this past season.
Smith said that Woods has a high athletic ceiling.
“J.C. had a lot of growing to do from a maturity standpoint, which he’s done an excellent job with over the last two years, from leading workouts to being there. He’s growing as a young man and has done an excellent job in the classroom.”
Smith pointed out that since the school opened in 2006, all 15 GCHS graduates who played football at Power 5 schools earned a college degree in the process.
“We’re very proud of that fact, that they take that opportunity to go and get a free education,” he said.