On Sept. 25, Jeremiah Wood stood tired in a huddle after another hard practice — the last of the week for the Bobcats. The redshirt-sophomore had heard the rumors and speculation all week long about the status of the upcoming football season.
Those rumors, however, were put to rest in a matter of seconds after the team was told that Mid-American Conference football would be returning this fall.
After learning that its season was canceled a month prior, Ohio had new life and the team’s energy was higher than it had ever been.
“We had just seen how the Big Ten was coming back and we were really hoping that we would get the chance too,” Wood said. “We’re excited to play and ready for any opportunity to compete for a MAC Championship.”
While Wood was excited to return to the game that runs deep through his family tree, he also knew he had a chance to show his improvement in the offseason, switching from safety to linebacker. Wood always entertained the idea of moving to the position if he didn’t play safety, so the transition wasn’t a difficult one to make.
“Really I think knowing more about the safety position and now learning from the linebackers and the linemen have just helped me learn the whole defense,” he said.
Making that smooth transition is a testament to Wood’s versatility. He prides himself on his physicality and toughness combined with his quickness and ability to make tackles. He plays with a certain physical toughness but also believes much of the game is won mentally — these are virtues he learned early on in his football career.
Wood hails from Pickerington, Ohio, home of NFL players Taco Charlton, Jake Butt and Pat Elflein as well as numerous current and former collegiate athletes. His older brother Jamie was a U.S. Army All American and All-Ohio defensive back for Pickerington Central before playing three seasons at Ohio State. Although his career was cut short due to a series of injuries in his junior season, Jamie’s drive and work ethic left an imprint on his younger brother.
“Since the 8th grade, getting up in the morning and working out with him or even going down to OSU when he was there and working out on their fields helped a lot,” Wood said. “Even him playing at that high of a collegiate level then helped prepare me for times like now.”
Of all the mentors and leaders that helped take his game to the next level, few rival in comparison to his high school football coach Jay Sharrett.
Sharrett has been coaching for nearly 30 years and had the privilege of coaching the Wood brothers respectively in their time with the Pickerington Central Tigers. He’s a blue-collar coach who takes pride in tradition, hard work and his signature brand of hard-nosed, physical football. The Tigers have had many great teams under Sharrett and a number of highly-touted recruits, but none as special as his 2017 squad where Wood served as a defensive captain. The team had over a half dozen Division I college recruits and ultimately brought the school its first state championship.
“Being under Coach Sharrett and learning from him, it taught us what to do and he really taught us more than just about football, but about being a man too,” Wood said. “It brought us closer together and we had a bond that most teams didn’t really have.”
That bond has been carried with him through college as well. He continues to keep in touch with his teammates at their respective schools whether it’s through heckling in group chats or hopping on his Playstation for a few rounds of Call of Duty after practice. Their camaraderie and support keep Wood grounded and push him to exceed on the field as well.
Off the field, Wood is as laid-back as it gets. When he’s not giving his all on the gridiron, Wood spends time inside with his roommates and fellow linebackers Bryce Houston and Keye Thomspon playing video games — don’t worry he’s got his PS5 pre-ordered already. While he likes to relax, he takes his academics seriously. As a mechanical engineering student, his course load comes with its own stressors and takes up the majority of his time.
Wood has the mentality and focus that it takes to make an impact for the Bobcats and from a leadership standpoint, he has the opportunity to learn from a solid linebacker and defensive captain in Jared Dorsa. Preparation and time are the keys to Wood’s growth in becoming a threat for Ohio’s defense. As just a redshirt sophomore, he has time to sharpen his strengths like speed and physicality and make a difference on the field with the time he’s given.
“I want to be known for being a good player, good teammate and just a good person to be around,” Wood said. “I’d like to leave have a bigger impact than just football, but I want to have a good impact overall leaving Ohio.”