Senior football trio of Jeff Woody, Jeremiah George, Shontrelle Johnson recall careers

No. 32 Jeff Woody runs with the ball after a pass from No. 12 Sam Richardson. Richardson played for the first time as quarterback during the the game against the University of Kansas on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.

Dean Berhow-Goll

On Saturday night, the ISU football team won’t be playing for a bowl game; it won’t be playing for a winning record; but it will be playing for pride and to make memories.

Three seniors — Jeff Woody, Jeremiah George and Shontrelle Johnson — each has a different story from their time in Ames and each of their stories will come to an end Saturday night.

Jeff Woody joined the team as a walk-on, and two years later, he scored the biggest touchdown in ISU history.

He made countless memories throughout his career as a Cyclone, and all of them should be hitting him as he takes the field for the last time at Jack Trice Stadium. Ranging from scoring the game-winner against No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011 to proposing to his girlfriend, he’s made enough memories to last him a lifetime.

“It’s going to be emotional, I know that,” Woody said. “Hopefully I keep the emotions in check, but I know that’s not going to happen.”

So how does Woody want to finish his career as a Cyclone? What would his ideal last play be in a cardinal and gold uniform? For him, he wouldn’t even want to be on the field.

“I want to be watching either [Grant] Rohach or Sam [Richardson], whoever’s in there, taking a knee at the end of the game and seeing the number that the Cyclones have higher than the number the Jayhawks have running over to the student section to sing the fight song,” Woody said.

Two times in Shontrelle Johnson’s career, he’s faced career-threatening injuries. Once receiving cervical fusion surgery in his neck and a year later tearing his ACL before the Liberty Bowl.

Woody said that’s a testament to his character.

“Shontrelle Johnson is one of the most mentally tough individuals that I have ever had the privilege of talking to,” Woody said. “I think he had to get taken out on a stretcher, and I was talking to her, [my then fiancee] where if it was me, I’d probably just hang them up, but Shontrelle wanted nothing to do with that, he wanted to be back on the field, he wanted to be wearing that cardinal and gold playing football.”

Johnson calls it being blessed. Plenty of times he thought about calling it quits and walking away, but he thanks his teammates and coaches for supporting him.

“A lot of times,” Johnson said about thinking of walking away. “The neck injury was something that I debated if I wanted to keep my scholarship and help coach, because guys don’t come back from that kind of injury, but it was definitely a test of faith.”

Jeremiah George still remembers when ISU coach Paul Rhoads came and recruited him at home in Florida. After the Oklahoma game on Nov. 16, George, his parents and Rhoads all took a stroll down memory lane, revisiting the event.

“Coach Rhoads came over and put his arms around my mom and dad and took them back when he came into my house and recruited me and he started to get a little choked up because I talked about wanting to be a Cyclone that night and then my mom choked up and then everything started hitting me,” George said. “I’ve loved everything about this, and Iowa State will be close to my heart for the rest of my life.”

So how does George — the defensive captain and currently the Big 12 leading tackler — want to be remembered?

“The passion I play with, the leadership I try to give,” George said. “A lot of people won’t remember this team. If they do and I’m brought to mind I just hope they remember I played with passion, I played every down and I did the best I could do for the team.”

Rhoads was asked Monday about what this senior class will mean to him. This class that was a part of the win at Nebraska, beating No. 2 Oklahoma State and last year’s win against No. 15 TCU.

It’s a class that has been through the biggest wins in Rhoads’ tenure at Iowa State.

“[I] asked if anybody had been with us to Lincoln and really had made that trip,” Rhoads said. “You’re talking about some guys that have been a part of great things in this program over time. This will be a special game for them and hopefully they’ll lead the way making it a productive week as we lead up to that game.”