TOLEDO — Logan Woodside has grown immensely since his days at Franklin County High School, when he quarterbacked one of the highest powered offenses in Kentucky and was mature enough to graduate a semester early and start college here at the University of Toledo in the spring of 2013.
“Oh man, it’s been unreal,” Woodside said this past Sunday during an interview at Toledo’s plush new Larimer Center, as he prepares for his sophomore season with the tradition-rich Rockets. “It’s been nearly two years since I graduated (FCHS) early and played in my first spring game here, and I feel like I’ve learned so much and grown so much.
“I’m still real young —I’m only19 — and I have a long ways to go but I feel I’m getting better each day. I feel like I’m continuing to get better as a quarterback and as a person.”
“Logan is a young man who has the respect of not only his teammates, but also the coaching staff,” said Toledo coach Matt Campbell of Woodside. “He has exceeded our expectations in a lot of ways.”
“Very coachable,” added Toledo’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Jason Candle, of the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Woodside. “Excellent in meetings, excellent on the field ... responsible, accountable...He’s not a me guy when things go right, and ‘Oh, it wasn’t my fault’ when things go bad.”
Unfortunately for Woodside, all of this praise may not land him the starting quarterback job when the Rockets open the season Aug. 30 at home against FCS power New Hampshire.
Woodside is having to reach deep into his reservoir of talent and maturity as he battles junior Phillip Ely (6-1, 202) and redshirt freshman Michael Julian (6-5, 215) for the starting quarterback job.
What Woodside has going for him, aside from the above, is the fact that he’s the only one of the three candidates who saw action for Toledo during the Rockets’ 7-5 season a year ago.
When senior starter Terrance Owens went down with an injury early in the season, Woodside came in during a Week 3 home opener with Eastern Washington and completed 14 of 24 passes for 240 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bernard Reedy.
Woodside went on to see action in three more games, finishing with 21 completions in 41 attempts in all.
Woodside said that somewhere in the Week 1 opener at Florida and that touchdown pass to Reedy came his, ‘I’m not in Kansas’ anymore’ welcome to big-time college football.
“I would say when we flew to Florida (a 24-6 Toledo loss), and I stepped on the field there, and then when I threw that touchdown pass to Reedy,” Woodside said. “That pass was our first home game (after a Week 2, 38-23, loss at Missouri), and that was probably my favorite moment in my short playing career.”
Ely, the guy who may be Woodside’s biggest threat for the No. 1 job, has lofty credentials of his own, most notably the fact that he originally signed with Alabama.
Yes, Alabama, as in Crimson Tide, as in a guy Nick Saban thought enough of to offer a scholarship...
If Ely outplayed Woodside in Toledo’s spring game, Woodside believes he’s made up ground in fall camp.
“The mistakes he made last year as a true freshman have been limited,” Candle said of Woodside’s progress. “And he’s improved immensely in the mental aspects of the game — recognizing coverages, reading defenses, knowing our system and where his spots are to put the football.”
Candle said Woodside has the necessary tools to be a quarterback at this level.
Woodside is very pragmatic about his situation.
“Anywhere you go, you’re going to have competition,” said Woodside, who spent a week in San Diego this summer being tutored by four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia. “That’s just part of it at a Division I school. You’re not promised anything. Phillip has come in here and been a great asset to our team. It’s made him better that we’re competing against each other, and it’s made me better. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Off the field, Woodside indicates he’s also doing well in the classroom, with a double major, in business marketing and sales.
He said he enjoys Toledo — the school, the city and his teammates.
“I’ve met so many people here, from all over the country, from all different backgrounds,” he said. “I think one of the unique things about coming to school here is not just playing football, but also getting relationships that will last a lifetime.
“I can’t believe I’m already in my second season,” he added. “It’s going fast. I’m just trying to enjoy the process and the ride.”