MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Tuesday was the first day freshmen who enrolled in the summer were allowed to speak to the media at West Virginia University.
They poured into the team's meeting room inside the Puskar Center. The receivers were the most popular. Many expected they would come in and earn playing time, if even at the expense of some veterans.
So far, though, it hasn't happened, which is why J.D. Woods, a senior who just won't go away, no matter how many challengers make a move, sat surrounded by reporters who wanted to know how he was again in position to start.
"I was never worried about my spot. Not one bit," he said. "I always thought I could be the one who would play when needed."
Woods discusses all of this with a nonchalance that makes a trying time sound so easy, but he's been through this all before. Last year it was Ivan McCartney making a play for one of the team's two outside positions, but Woods was the starter by the end of the regular season.
In the spring, Woods was inside, where it seemed freshman Jordan Thompson would one day take over the starting spot.
That seems to have happened already, but Woods is back outside above McCartney and Ryan Nehlen.
"We need him," second-year WVU Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
And yet to hear Holgorsen tell it, the Mountaineers almost didn't have him. Holgorsen said Woods had been relegated to the scout team recently because he was "one of those guys" the coaching staff had academic worries about for the upcoming season.
Woods called it only "personal reasons," but acknowledged, like his coach said, that he came to life late last week.
"I was very determined to go back out there and make plays and work my way back," Woods said. "I continue to strive to be the best I can be, so when Coach Holgorsen called my name, I knew it was time to go in and make plays."
Woods hasn't played a lot, getting into 26 games in three seasons, and he has averaged one reception per game, including none as a redshirt freshman in 2009. What he lacks in playing time and statistics he more than makes up for in self-esteem.
He is where he is not because of gaudy numbers or an irresistible reputation, but rather because he acts like he belongs.
"Nothing can break a confident man," he said. "Confidence is something I pride myself on."
Somewhere along the way, Woods saw the way things needed to be. He played different positions, but even when he was at one, he studied the other. When he had a moment, he coached up younger players. When WVU needed someone to do something, he made himself available.