It wasn’t something he set out to do, but Durant’s Alex Wood is breaking stereotypes.
“I never really looked at it like that until someone pointed it out to me,” the Cougar offensive lineman said. “They said something about going against the jock stereotype and I thought, ‘Yeah, I guess it does.’ It actually makes things kind of fun, because I feel that I’m smarter than I look, just by virtue of size.”
Wood, a 6-foot, 255-pound center, has been accepted into Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university in Pittsburgh that ranks top 50 in the world and 23rd in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Wood will play football for the Tartans while pursuing a degree in material science engineering. He is one of 47 football recruits for the 2013 class, a recruiting class filled with athletic and academic talent.
With a 6.44 weighted (3.8 unweighted) GPA, a full course load including four AP classes and a 1,350 SAT score, Wood should feel right at home.
Usually, you get one or the other.
Students tend to gravitate to math and science or liberal arts.
Although Wood excels in the former, he also enjoys the latter, especially a type of writing you may not expect from someone who hits people for fun.
“I really like to write, and I write a lot of poetry,” he said, saying the interest came from his AP literature class this year. “I’ve been doing a lot of that, but I’m definitely the best at math. I can enjoy writing all I want, but I’ll still get higher grades in math.”
Material science and engineering focuses on electricity and magnetism. Wood plans to pursue a master’s degree after completing his undergraduate work.
“Material science is a direction that is growing,” he said.
Wood discovered he had a knack for math his junior year, when he took pre-calculus.
“I was in the gifted program in elementary school and was always with a group of kids that was good at math, so it wasn’t really a surprising thing to be good at math until you were in high school,” he said. “Pre-calculus, I feel, really separated people.”
ASPIRATIONS FOR SUCCESS
Wood entered Durant with aspirations of attending a prestigious college but never had a particular one in mind.
Carnegie Mellon became an option his junior year through the help of Durant assistant football coach Troy Martin.
“He really helped me out and gave them some of my information and film,” Wood said. “That’s how I got interested in them and started looking more into the school after they were interested in me.”
Wood had heard of the prestigious college from watching Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” in one of his classes at Durant. Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus, delivered the lecture in 2007 and it became an Internet sensation, an internationally media story and a best-selling book. Pausch died in 2008 of complications from pancreatic cancer.
“That lecture was the last lecture of his life and let me know about Carnegie Mellon and that it was a good school,” Wood said. “When the name came up a year later when they were scouting me, I just like, ‘Wow,’ because I knew how good of a school it was.”
BECOMING A TARTAN
Playing college football wasn’t always a goal for Wood. Before going on his official visit to Carnegie, Wood said he was “three-quarters set” on not playing football in college.
“The coach kind of talked me into it when I got up there,” he said. “I also found out that I get extra financial aid for playing.”
Wood said he has been overwhelmed by support he’s received from family, friends and his Durant football family. It’s something Wood was unaccustomed to as an offensive lineman — often the unsung heroes on a football team.
“Everyone here that I see on a daily basis will ask me about where I’m going. I know that they’re supporting me, and it’s a strange feeling, because I haven’t had that,” he said.
Wood’s SAT score ties fellow Durant offensive lineman Michael Watkins for best on the team. Quarterback Trey VanDeGrift will continue the growing academic success of Cougar football, as the rising senior has interest from several Ivy League schools.
Many football memories stand out for Wood during his career at Durant, but none more than last fall’s undefeated regular season, a first in school history.
“That was awesome to be a part of that,” he said. “Pretty much every game last season was exciting.”