High school football: Salisbury’s Wood to Guilford

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 21, 2020

By Mike London

SALISBURY — The quietest things on the planet?

Flowers and trees. Books and suitcases. Fish, snakes, mice, owls. Jadarius Wood.

Wood is not only a hard-hitting safety, he’s a librarian’s dream. He should be nicknamed “Barn Owl” instead of “JD.” He’s virtually silent.

Wood gave the Salisbury Hornets more tackles than words in 2019, when the team won four playoff games — three on the road — and reached the 2AA state championship game.

But that’s OK. You don’t want a safety who’s going to yell at a running back and try to talk him into going out of bounds. You want a safety who can chase that running back and catch him. Wood is that guy. He’ll grab him. He’ll tackle him hard.

“He was quiet,” Salisbury head coach Brian Hinson said. “But he led by example. There’s not much fear in JD.”

Wood is only about 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, so it’s a good thing he’s a young man who is a stranger to fear. He believes he can play college football. So does Hinson, who played a lot of college football.

Guilford, a D-III school in Greensboro, also believes Wood can play college football. That’s where he’s headed to continue athletics and education. While Wood won’t win a lot of  debates, he is a good student and plans to major in computing technology and information systems.

There was interest in Wood despite his size. College coaches watched film of Salisbury and wanted to know who the guy wearing the No. 1 jersey was, because that guy kept tackling people. Even in the Shelby game, Wood made a lot of tackles in the open field.

Hinson told Guilford the same thing he told every other school that asked about Wood.

“I told everyone that pound-for-pound JD would be one of the strongest guys on their team and one of the toughest guys on their team,” Hinson said. “And he can really run.”

Wood was close to going to Averett with teammate Kameon Alford, but he changed his mind and decided on Guilford.

“I didn’t really know where I wanted to go for a long time,” Wood said. “What I did know is I didn’t want to go too far away. I wanted to go in-state if I could and I’m glad I was able to work things out with Guilford. It’s closer and I also liked Guilford’s campus a little better than Averett.”

Wood was fortunate to be the younger brother of a good player — Tyvion Wood. Little brothers often get to play with the older guys early in life, and they develop more quickly than they would have otherwise. Tyvion was intercepting passes for the Hornets just a couple of years ago. He was a senior starter in 2017 when JD was a sophomore backup.

JD has been a rock-solid starter the past two seasons and was All-Central Carolina Conference and All-Rowan County as a senior.

Wood tore ligaments in his hand in a scrimmage right before his senior season started. He also was hobbled for a while after a knee-to-knee collision, but he missed just one game. If he’d been able to walk, he wouldn’t have missed that one.

He played mostly outside linebacker as a junior. That’s how good a tackler he is and how tough he is.

“We were able to move him back to safety this year, but he could play in the box,” Hinson said. “He’s physical enough to do it. We were able to adjust with him during a game, using him where he was needed, depending on down and distance. He’s valuable.”

And as Hinson mentioned earlier, Wood runs very well. Salisbury only manged to compete in one track and field meet this spring before coronavirus shut things down, but Wood won the 100 meters.

“We had a big track team and we were going to do be tough to beat,” Wood said.

Wood occasionally got to do a little sprinting during the high school football season. He romped for a 95-yard fumble return against South Rowan. That trip to the end zone was his memorable individual moment for the season, but his memorable team moment obviously was playing in the state championship game against Shelby. The Hornets dropped  that one, but their 13-win season tied the school record. Wood and his teammates can always look back on that accomplishment with pride.

It’s not hard to see Wood making a special-teams contribution early at Guilford, which struggled to a 2-8 record in 2019. Guilford can use some guys like wood.

“Until football starts, I’ll keep working (at Wal-Mart) and working out,” Wood said.