FBC Wondrous Woodhead By The Associated Press November 01. 2006 5:16PM (advertisement) CHADRON, Neb. (AP) - Far from college football's bright lights, in the northwest corner of Nebraska, diminutive Danny Woodhead is quietly running through the record books for Chadron State. Woodhead has piled up 5,694 yards rushing in 29 games for the Division II Eagles, an average of 196.3, and is on pace to become the most prolific rusher in college football history. Barring injury or other unforeseen events, Woodhead has at least 12 more games to amass the 1,660 yards it would take for him to pass the all-time record of 7,353 yards by R.J. Bowers of Division III Grove City (Pa.) College from 1997-2000. ``Sometimes I do get surprised when I see the stat sheet,'' Woodhead said. ``I get my yards deceptively. I break some long ones. And then there are the ones that people don't notice. I have quite a few 10- to 20-yard runs that tend to add up.'' Woodhead has gone over 200 yards in six of nine games this season for the unbeaten Eagles, including two games over 300. He ran for a career-high 324 yards and four touchdowns against Wayne (Neb.) State. His low was 125 yards against Colorado Mines in a game in which he sat out much of the second half because his team was routing the Orediggers. His averages of 231.5 yards rushing and 265.1 all-purpose yards are tops in the NCAA. He's a leading candidate for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II Heisman. ``Everybody knows he's going to carry the ball 30 times a game, and teams can't stop him,'' Colorado Mines coach Bob Stitt said. ``It's almost a joke: If he doesn't get 200 yards, it's like he's had a bad game.'' Doubters contend Woodhead is putting up big numbers against light competition in a conference - the Rocky Mountain Athletic - where members aren't allowed to fund football to the D-II maximum 36 scholarships. Still, he has run for more than 300 yards four times in his career. He's gone over 200 yards on 11 other occasions. His biggest stage was a September victory at I-AA Montana State, where he ran for 215 yards. Montana State is the same team that made national headlines for beating the Big 12's Colorado this year. ``He wanted to show everybody he was capable of doing those things against a Division I team,'' offensive lineman Jared Lee said. ``We could tell by the way he was running. He had fire in his (tail). He wanted to get it done.'' Woodhead, like other small-college stars, has a knock on him that kept him from playing Division I. Woodhead's is his size. He's listed at 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds. Woodhead said he uses his lack of height to his advantage. ``I would rather by 5-7 and a half, 5-8 than be 5-10, 5-11,'' he said. ``It's tough on linebackers to see me over a big line.'' Chadron coach Bill O'Boyle compares Woodhead's shifty running style to that of NFL great Barry Sanders. Opposing coaches tout Woodhead's vision, leg strength, 4.43-second speed in the 40 and ability to make huge gains after initial contact. He also is a dangerous receiver. Defenses have employed linebackers and safeties as ``spies'' whose only assignment was to shadow Woodhead. ``You can try all that, and nothing works,'' said Joe Ramunno, who saw Woodhead run for 205 yards against his Mesa (Colo.) State team last week. ``You know he's going to get the ball, but he has such burst. We missed three tackles on one play, and he had an 80-yard touchdown.'' Woodhead grew up in North Platte, Neb., and had hoped to play for the home-state Cornhuskers. But former coach Frank Solich, himself a 5-8 running back for Nebraska in the 1960s, told Woodhead that he was too small and asked him to walk on with the opportunity to return kicks. Woodhead said he was crushed and found it curious that Solich did recruit a 5-6 running back, Cory Ross, who would become the team's leading rusher under Bill Callahan in 2004 and '05. With no Division I offers in hand, he headed for Chadron. His mom and dad, Annette and Mark Woodhead, attended the school, and his brother Ben played receiver for the Eagles. ``It's a whole different world out here,'' Chadron coach Bill O'Boyle said. ``It's a place you pass through when you're on your way to vacation in the Black Hills (of South Dakota).'' Denver is 250 miles to the southwest, Omaha is 400 miles to the east. There's not much else in between but ranches, farmland and lots of cattle. The facilities are Spartan. The Eagles' practice field is carved out of a pine-dotted hillside. Sprinklers were turned on to save the field - and campus - from July wildfires. On a recent afternoon, two people strode up to the field on horseback to watch Woodhead and his teammates practice. The program has enjoyed success, reaching the Division II playoffs four times since 1996. It's best-known alum is Don Beebe, who played receiver for the Buffalo Bills and won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers. Chadron's stadium is named after him, in fact. Woodhead said he enjoys the solitude of Chadron, where he's the town's biggest celebrity. The disappointment of not playing for the Huskers has long worn off. He's found contentment playing football in the hinterlands. He's fast to credit his linemen for his success, and he puts his run at the all-time rushing record behind his desire to win. ``If the numbers come, they come,'' he said.