John McNeal has coached a lot of good linemen through the years, but Andrew Wood might be the best.
The Friendship Christian guard has 16 college offers.
“I’ve had some good ones, and I hate to compare, but I’m not sure if there is one to compare,” McNeal said. “I think he is the best one. He dominated the line pretty much every game he was in last year, and I’m hoping this year he’ll continue to do that. He’s a kid that moves the line of scrimmage, and that makes the holes for the running backs a whole lot easier.”
Wood has narrowed his top five to Purdue, Navy, Duke, Mississippi State and Louisville.
“Whenever I’m ready, I’ll make a decision, whether it’s midseason or after the season,” said Wood, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound senior.
Wood played tackle last season, but he was moved to guard this year.
“He is a kid that I think has an offensive guard’s body, but he is deceptively athletic,” said Barton Simmons, director of scouting for 247Sports. “Really has outstanding feet and great quickness, and I think he is sort of sneakily one of the best offensive linemen in the state. Just a great athlete at his size.”
Simmons gives Duke and Purdue the recruiting edge because Wood is interested in engineering and both have highly touted engineering schools.
Wood paved the way for Friendship running back Steven Hollis, who rushed for 1,190 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
“I’d say a large portion of (my yards) came from running behind his side,” Hollis said. “It’s nice to be able to run behind somebody that you know is going to block for you. If he’s going against somebody a lot smaller than him, then he’ll be able to overpower them. But if he comes up against a kid his size or maybe a little bit bigger than him, he’ll have to use his technique to get the job done.”
Wood helped lead the Commanders (9-3) to the Division I-A quarterfinals last year.
“Obviously, he has all the tools to be a great player at this level and obviously at the next level as well,” Donelson Christian Academy coach Dennis Goodwin said. “It’s a huge matchup problem for us because we don’t have anybody that size. It causes issues for us, sure.”
Wood, who also plays defensive line, is hoping Friendship will make a deeper playoff run this season.
“Hopefully we’ll make a long run this fall and make it to the state championship,” Wood said. “I like to overpower (opponents), but I do pay attention to technique. I pride myself in footwork and being nasty at the same time.”
Reach Chip Cirillo
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DII-A EAST/MIDDLE 1 AT A GLANCE
Best team: Knoxville Webb — The two-time defending DII-A champs are the team to beat.
Best player: Brant Mitchell — The Webb linebacker has committed to Georgia Tech.
Best game: The winner of the Webb-Friendship game on Sept. 19 might be in the driver’s seat for the district title.
Surprise team: Running back Jason Maduafokwa (1,000-plus rushing yards, 16 TDs) will lead way for King’s Academy.
DII-A EAST/MIDDLE 2 AT A GLANCE
Best team: BGA — The Wildcats will be trying to repeat as district champions.
Best player: BGA running back/wide receiver Ronald Cleveland has offers from Air Force, Navy and Austin Peay.
Best game: The district title may be decided in the regular-season finale when BGA visits FRA.
Surprise team: Davidson Academy could make quick improvement under first-year coach Jonathan Quinn.