By Duane Cochran
For the Times West Virginian
Christmas came a little early for Jason Woodman.
The 33-year-old Marion County native was introduced to the media and public for the first time Saturday afternoon inside the Feaster Center’s Joe Retton Arena as Fairmont State University’s new football coach.
It’s the first head coaching job for the North Marion High School and FSU graduate who most recently served as the offensive coordinator for Bowie State (Md.) University for the past two years and prior to that had stops at LSU, Florida State, California (Pa.) University and Concord University.
“I don’t think it’s hit home for me just yet because these last few days have been pretty hectic, but I feel very blessed and honored to be here and have this opportunity,” said Woodman, who had a large number of family members, friends and people from the community in attendance. “Obviously I’m excited, anxious and ready to jump right in and get things rolling, but with the Christmas holiday I’m going to take a couple of days, catch my breath and then after that’s over to the wall we go.
“Then it’ll really hit me. I have to hire a staff, get busy recruiting, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and getting to know the players. They’re on break right now, but I know who some of them are and I had the opportunity to meet a couple of guys today.
“I think those guys share the same passion as I do. I’m sure a lot of them were unsure of some things and not real certain of what was going on, but the players I have met and spoken with are very positive about the future here and like me they’re ready to get started.”
Senior defensive linemen Anthony Domico and Jake Kelly and sophomore tight end Jakob Streyle were all in attendance Saturday and say they’re looking forward to the future at FSU under Woodman’s leadership.
“I’m excited,” said Domico. “My last four years here at Fairmont State have been great, but I’ve got one more year to get it done and I can’t wait. Coach Woodman seems like a good guy who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He said all of the right things, and I’m looking forward to playing for him.”
“I met him today for the first time and I got a real good first impression from him,” said Kelly. “He’s young, enthusiastic and really conducts himself in a professional manner. I can’t wait to get started again. It’s a new challenge for all of us here at Fairmont State, but it’s definitely one we’re all looking forward to.”
Woodman’s message to the returning FSU players is pretty straightforward and simple.
“We have a plan and a process we’re going to set in motion,” he said. “We want to set a tone here, and we want players who are going to buy into that. We want guys who want to be here, want to make Fairmont State successful and are willing to do everything right on a day-to-day basis.
“That’s really my No. 1 message to the team. We want players who want to be the best every single day in everything they do. We’re going to find those guys, show them the plan and then push them in the right direction, but ultimately they have to make the commitment as players and as student-athletes to do it. When they do, we’ll be fine.”
One of Woodman’s first big challenges will be hiring a staff. He’s already begun that process and promises to surround himself with quality people.
“I’m going to put together a staff that I guarantee has a lot of experience and knowledge and has been at the highest level,” he said. “I’m going to bring in people who are excited to be Falcons and who are winners. We’re going to set a high level of expectations, and we are going to hold ourselves accountable and our players accountable and we are going to do it every single day.
“It’s important for me as the head coach to surround myself with guys who have the same vision as I do. (FSU Board of Governors) Chairman Ron Tucker touched on the fact that our goal is to be in the upper tier of Division II football, and I think in order to do that you’ve got to bring in some people here who have experience in higher levels of football.
“Obviously I’d love to have some guys who have Division I or NFL coaching experience, but we’re going to do the best we can to find guys who at least have the same expectations as I do. I think having people who have been in or around successful programs and know what it takes and what your goals need to be day to day to achieve a high level of success is a key.”
FSU football players and students will return for classes for the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 14.