Gadsden City football coach Bart Sessions has been around some talented backs during his career.
He was the defensive coordinator at Daphne when current Jacksonville Jaguar T.J. Yeldon helped the Trojans to the Class 6A state title. He was the head coach at McGill-Toolen when current Atlanta Falcon Ito Smith powered an impressive Yellow Jacket playoff run.
Sessions believes Gadsden City senior running back Jamontez Woods is in the same class as Smith and Yeldon.
“His style is probably between those two guys,” Sessions said. “T.J. was so smooth. He is a longer back and was just incredibly versatile. He created matchup problems everywhere. Ito had one of the best jump cuts you will see. He could stick his toe in the ground and cut on a dime.
“Jamontez is a bit of a combination. He’ll create some matchup problems and be that smooth runner, but also can stick is toe in the ground and get vertical. We’re excited about what he can do for us this season.”
The 6-foot, 210-pound Woods has racked up nearly 20 offers, including Ole Miss, UAB, Troy, Tulane, South Alabama and Western Kentucky. Sessions also said he is high on the boards at Auburn and Alabama, though neither has offered yet.
He’s a bit underrated as far as the 2019 senior class in Alabama goes – currently No. 58 on the 247 composite rankings — but Sessions said his stock is rising in college circles.
“We didn’t give him the football enough last year,” he said. “It’s a statistic driven world that we live in. Jamontez didn’t have 1,500 yards rushing because we just didn’t hand him the ball enough or, in some cases, maybe the quarterback pulled it in an RPO situation or whatever. He also shared time in the backfield with a senior. However, his yards per carry is really good. We’ve got to focus on him more this year.”
Sessions thinks that will happen with the addition of new offensive coordinator Mark Heaton. The former Russellville head coach joined the Titans’ staff this spring and has added more detail to Gadsden City’s blocking schemes.
Sessions described Woods as a physical back and a leader on the team. He ran for 849 yards and eight touchdowns on 169 carries in 2017 and also caught six passes for an additional 93 yards and a score.
“He’s a kid who wants the ball in every situation,” he said. “When we need the tough yards, he wants it in his hands and we have to do a better job of making that happen. He runs with great power.
“Like most great backs, if he gets it 20 times a night, he is going to break tackles and run away from some folks. He finishes runs as well as anyone I’ve ever been around.”
Sessions said Woods’ recruitment up to this point has mirrored that of Smith, who had limited Power 5 offers out of McGill-Toolen despite rushing for 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior. He signed with Southern Miss where he was a perennial All-Conference USA player and ran for more than 1,100 yards in a season three times.
“It’s the same type deal,” Sessions said. “In a few years, there will be some colleges looking back on Jamontez just like they did Ito and saying, ‘We should have pursued that kid harder.'”
Woods and Gadsden City open the 2018 season at Etowah on Aug. 24.