On Tuesday, Michigan State University defender and Revs Academy Alum Nick Woodruff became one of New England's new USL affiliate club's first ever signings. Woodruff, who was about to go into his junior year in college next fall, is coming off a great run of form at Michigan State.
When I talked to Nick, he said he was, "relieved and excited" to be joining his hometown club, saying: "It’s an honor and a privilege. I’ve been apart of this club since I've been 13 years old (playing for the academy)." After redshirting his first year at State, Woodruff played two years at MSU before signing with the Revs. His first year got sidetracked, after sustaining a season-ending injury against Wisconsin. After that injury, MSU's defense was a shadow of what it once was. In his first year, Woodruff played 10 games before his injury. In those games, he registered one goal, one assist and only accumulated one yellow card over 766 minutes. In addition, Woodruff played every minute of the first six games of the season, including a 110 minute game against Tulsa that ended in a 0-0 draw in overtime.
In Woodruff's second year, his defense ability was on display again. He started 16 of 17 games, playing over 1,387 minutes. While Michigan State had a poor year following up their Final Four run, the one constant was their superb defense, of which Woodruff was a huge part of. Despite his rather short tenure at MSU, Woodruff says he learned a lot while there. "Honestly it helped me grow up in all aspects of life. Being away from home, having to deal with challenges on and off the field helped me grow. By no means was my MSU career perfect, it had ups and downs, injuries, etc. But it did help me grow and help prepare me for the next challenge.”
A New Challenge
At 21 years old, Woodruff has a long career ahead of him and still has a lot to learn as he tries to grow as a player. When asked what he most looks forward to now, he said “The opportunity to keep growing as a player and person. I think the skies the limit and I'm going to keep working.” Although this will be Woodruff's first professional contract, he's far from being a stranger to the pros. Over the past few years, as a part of the Revs Academy, Woodruff has trained with the first team on numerous occasions. In addition to the Revs, Nick has also trained with teams in Portugal in the 2nd and 3rd divisions during the summer.
I asked what it meant to be one of the first signings in club history. Nick said, “It felt good to be in the initial group of players for this new project. I'm excited to get to work and represent my hometown club." Even though being one of the first signings might be a lot to handle, Woodruff isn't phased by it. “There's no added pressure being at the beginning of this. My whole life I've just tried to complete the task at hand to the best of my ability and that’s what I will continue to do.” A feeder club like Revs II is something the Revs need to progress players like Nick, and is something the club has lacked over the years. With the new club set up, the team will be able to help produce more academy players by getting them more minutes and experience. Only time will tell how this experiment will work out.