Over the coming days, we’ll highlight a few notable Chargers with their 2014 Media Guide profile. Up next is running back Danny Woodhead.
Running back Danny Woodhead proved to be a jack-of-all-trades in his first year with the Chargers.
An adept pass-catcher, Woodhead set new career highs across the board in 2013 with 76 catches (second on the team), 605 yards and six touchdowns. He finished the regular season with the most touchdown catches among all NFL running backs and the second-most receptions and receiving yards. Woodhead also scored two rushing touchdowns setting a new career high for total touchdowns in a season and he added to his scoring ledger in the postseason, scoring the Chargers’ first touchdown of their wild card win in Cincinnati on a five yard run for his first-career playoff rushing touchdown.
Woodhead added 429 rushing yards to his offensive tally giving him a total of 1,034 yards from scrimmage and he tackled on 262 kickoff return yards for 1,296 all-purpose yards. Both were career highs.
Woodhead has always been a popular NFL player but his popularity reached new heights last year when Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway was photographed walking her dog in Los Angeles, while sporting a replica of Woodhead’s No. 39 Chargers jersey.
A native of tiny North Platte, Neb. (pop. 25,000), Woodhead is one of the most popular athletes ever to come out of the Cornhusker state. He first came onto the national scene at Chadron State College after a record-setting career at North Platte High. Nebraska’s 2003 Player of the Year, Woodhead was overlooked by the state’s biggest schools, including the University of Nebraska, so he followed his older brother, Ben, to Chadron State where he became the first-ever athlete in school history to receive a full-ride scholarship. Despite his diminutive 5-8, 200-pound frame, Woodhead set a number of records for the Eagles, and he became a two-time winner of the Harlon Hill Award, Division II’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Woodhead left the Chadron, Neb. campus as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (7,962 yards) and he tied the national mark with 109 touchdowns. Though Chadron State never won a national championship during Woodhead’s career, the Eagles went 35-11 during his tenure, including back-to-back undefeated seasons and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles his junior and senior years. Their only loss each of those two seasons came in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals where both times they were defeated by Northwest Missouri State. In 2013, Woodhead was named to the Division II 40th-Anniversary Tribute Team.
Despite a record-breaking college career, Woodhead did not receive an invitation to participate at the 2008 NFL Combine. Instead he took part in a Pro Day on the University of Nebraska campus and posted a 40-yard dash time that would’ve been among the fastest at the Combine. Still, when the 2008 NFL Draft rolled around, all seven rounds came and went without Woodhead hearing his name called and he ended up signing a free agent contract with the New York Jets. Woodhead suffered a knee injury in training camp and spent his entire rookie year on the “Reserve-Injured” list. He returned in 2009 and played sparingly for the Jets, but in 2010 he was released after the first game of the season. It didn’t take long for the rival New England Patriots to scoop up the Nebraska native and his career quickly hit an upswing. Woodhead played in 14 games for the Patriots and averaged a team-record 5.64 yards per carry for a squad that reached the AFC Divisional Playoffs. A year later, Woodhead helped the Patriots to a 13-3 regular season that culminated with a date with the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. And in 2012, he helped New England to a 12-4 mark and a trip to the AFC Championship Game.Woodhead seemed destined to play football from early childhood. As a child, he drew numbers on the backs of his cowboys and Indians and he held make believe games in his bedroom. Looking for a bigger field, he even once drew a football field in the middle of the family’s living room with a green marker. By fourth grade, he became a ball boy at North Platte High, where his dad, Mark, was an assistant coach.
Their family is extremely close. Woodhead was homeschooled until the ninth grade and his parents still live in North Platte, where Mark is now a school teacher and high school girls basketball coach. Both of his parents also attended Chadron State and Mark played wide receiver for the Eagles in the late 1970s. Danny and Ben roomed together at Chadron and they later served as the best men in each other’s weddings. All of the men in the Woodhead family go by the nickname “Woody,” except for Mark, who goes by “Big Woody.” They all enjoy playing golf and Danny, a scratch player, is the family’s best. Mom, Annette, is extremely devout and to this day she still sends Danny scriptures prior to each of his games.
Woodhead and his wife, Stacia, have two children, daughter, Gia Grace, and son, Will Daniel.