He's not even in high school yet and Brayden Wood is already setting his sights on playing big-time Division-I football.
For this youngster, however, these big plans aren't just the hopeful dreams of a young athlete and football fan. As far ahead of the competition as he already is, Wood's lofty goals are pretty realistic.
Still an eighth-grader at Altona Middle School in Longmont, Wood competed for the Gold Team in the FBU Army All-American Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, last Friday. Quite the accomplishment considering the last eighth-grader selected for the FBU Army All-American Game out of Colorado was Christian McCaffrey, who went on to star at Stanford.
"It was really great to be playing in the Alamodome as an eighth grader," Wood said. "Music is playing, the announcer is going and even the jumbotron is on. It really feels like you're playing in a college game. Going against kids that I've never seen before and making friends all across the country is quite the experience. Even the practices were amazing."
Switching between defensive end and defensive tackle, Wood spent most of the game squaring off against an offensive a tackle from Houston who is 6-foot-5, 330 pounds. One of the top recruits in his up-and-coming recruiting class out of Colorado, Wood, who is already 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, held his own despite his young age. He finished the game with six tackles and a sack.
"I've never seen that big of kids before," Wood said. "It's an awesome experience to compete against that level of talent and to see where you need to get to if you want to get a big-time Division-I scholarship."
With his family pedigree, it's no surprise that Wood is already achieving at a high level. He is the younger brother of Austin Wood, who graduated from Silver Creek High School last season and went on to pitch at the Division-I level for Furman University. Brayden Wood is also the nephew of Ryan Wood, who started on Fairview High's last state championship team before going on to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and co-found Under Armour.
Wood said he has applied for open enrollment at Fairview and hopes to continue his uncle's tradition of excellence with that program.
While Wood is making his debut on the national stage this winter, another local football player will be making an encore appearance in international play. For the second time in his young career, Fairview sophomore cornerback Matt Greenwald will play for Team USA in the International Bowl showcase at AT&T Stadium. His team will face Team Japan on Jan. 16.
"It's a really cool experience just knowing that I'm one of a few from around the nation, and one of two from Colorado, to be on the national team," Greenwald said. "My granddad was a member of Congress for 18 years and he has always really inspired me so the chance to be able to represent my country is an honor. Plus, facing the best of the best from another country prepares me for when I come back and face high school competition during the season."
Greenwald, who is one of only two Colorado players to make the team, will play either cornerback or safety, and could possibly see some time at receiver. He had 64 tackles and two interceptions for Fairview this past season.