A true triple threat, these brothers are blessed with athleticism and competitive spirit. Forging a Woods family legacy

Jenni Carlson

HEARING the metal cleats clacking on the ramp, D'Juan Woods looked across the football field at Millwood High School. There, scrambling down the hill, trying not to fall, was his younger brother Donovan.

"Will you slow down?" D'Juan said. "You're going to..."

Donovan cut him off.

"They won! They won!" he yelled over and over. "They won!"

The brothers had been listening to the Bedlam football game in the locker room before Millwood's Class 2A quarterfinal game against the Jones Longhorns, but D'Juan, a senior, had gone to the field for special teams warm-ups.

Donovan, a junior, was getting taped when he heard that Oklahoma State had won on a game-winning touchdown catch by their older brother Rashaun.

Donovan rushed down to the field and up to D'Juan.

"Rashaun," he said, "scored the winning touchdown."

The brothers erupted into cheers. Whooping and hollering, they danced and jumped and ran around the field.

Then, they ran around Jones. Led by D'Juan and Donovan, Millwood has been dominant in playoffs, outscoring its opponents 167-58, winning by an average of 26.8 points and advancing to Saturday's 2A final against Tulsa Cascia Hall.

These last few weeks have been good ones for the Woods brothers.

"Stuff like this doesn't happen every day," Donovan said. "We're cherishing it. We're really blessed."

And really talented.

A 6-foot-3, 195-pound sophomore, Rashaun had 80 receptions for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He broke Hart Lee Dykes' school record for catches in a season and was the only player in the Big 12 this season to surpass the 1,000-yard plateau.

D'Juan's numbers are almost as impressive. The 6-2, 185-pound receiver has 45 catches for 953 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has committed to OSU.

And little brother Donovan isn't so little. At 6-3, 205, he's the biggest of the bunch. He's completed 106 of 158 attempts for 1,785 yards and 36 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions. He also has 972 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing.

Move over, Selmons.

The Woods brothers are making a name for themselves, too.

"It doesn't seem like they've got blinding speed," said Star Spencer coach Shannon Watford, whose team advanced to the 4A semifinals but lost to Millwood 18-13 earlier this season. "They're just very elusive. They made some good athletes on our team look like they weren't very good."

Watford believed the game turned on four plays, two made by D'Juan, two by Donovan.

"I wouldn't think that somebody would be able to do that to us," Watford said, "but they did."

The Woods brothers might be some of the best football players around, but really, they're just trying to be the best in their house. They admit to being highly competitive, squaring off in football, basketball, Nintendo.

Even fishing.

"When we go fishing, it's who can catch the biggest and who can catch the most," D'Juan said. "We sit there until sundown. We stay out there until we're unable to see."

No one wants to leave.

No one wants to lose.

And then, there are the front-yard football practices. With Donovan throwing the passes, Rashaun and D'Juan will go one-on-one for hours. One will play receiver while the other plays defensive back. Then they'll switch and go the other way.

They talk about the smallest of details. How to come out of the break. Where to put your front foot. How to tuck the ball.

"That's where we go over the little things," Rashaun said. "No matter how long it takes."

They skip dinner, playing into the evening, ignoring pleas from their mother, Juana, and father, Larry, to come inside. The house, set among the trees east of Eastern Avenue, has floodlights mounted on the front porch.

No need to go in when it gets dark.

"We're all trying to be the best out of our family," D'Juan said. "The reason why we excel is because we're still fighting the battle against each other. We're still challenging ourselves."

There must be some pressure associated with being one of the Woods brothers. Their oldest brother, Gary, played football at Langston; their father, Larry, was a high school standout on the basketball court; and their grandfather, Henry Langston, was a key figure in the Northeast Optimist Sports Association. But Rashaun, D'Juan and Donovan don't seem the least bit affected by the legacy that precedes them.

D'Juan jumped at the chance to be a wide receiver like Rashaun.

"Many people say I'm trying to follow in his footsteps," D'Juan said, "when in fact I'm trying to make my own."

And Donovan wears No. 42 like Rashaun did at Millwood.

"When I drop back to pass, it's going to be complete or incomplete. When I run, it's going to be a gain or a loss," Donovan said. "I try not to think about what everybody says."

Millwood coach Don Willis credits Larry and Juana Woods for their sons' maturity. Married for more than 30 years, they make sure the boys are in school during the week and in church on Sunday.

The impact is obvious.

"You don't hear about them doing all the partying," Willis said of the Woods brothers. "I'm not saying they're perfect kids."

But they're pretty darn good.

"We've raised six," Juana Woods said of her four sons and two daughters, "and we've never had to get any of them out of jail. They've all finished school and gone to college. We expect the rest of them to do the same."

Larry Woods said, "We've tried to raise them so that they know they are somebody special. They are because God created them. Their worth is not a measure of their athletic accomplishments.

"Just use your gifts."

Where football is concerned, the Woods brothers are doing just that. They cheer each other's successes and celebrate each other's accomplishments. They love when someone asks if they are one of the Woods brothers.

"That makes you feel proud," Donovan said. "We just sit back and laugh and know we're truly blessed."

State title games

Class A: Velma-Alma vs. Hominy, 1 p.m., Saturday, Lewis Field, Stillwater.

Class 2A: Millwood vs. Tulsa Cascia Hall, 7:30 p.m, Saturday, Lewis Field, Stillwater.

Archive ID: 874189