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Football Coaching Staff
Sparky Woods
Running Backs Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Running Backs Coach
Alma Mater: Carson-Newman
Graduating Year: 1976
Experience: 3 Years
Phone: 804-289-8380

A veteran in coaching, Woods has made a quite an impact in just a short time in Richmond.

Entering his third year with the Spiders, Woods joined the program in 2015 and immediately went to work, guiding Richmond’s running backs to back-to-back historic seasons.

This past fall, Richmond had to deal with two season-ending injuries in the backfield and the Spiders’ saw redshirt freshman Deontez Thompson become the first freshman in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards, earning Freshman All-American accolades along the way.

Thompson was just the 13th player in program history to reach 1,000-plus yards receiving, while also piling up nearly 500 yards receiving.

In 2015, under Woods’ guidance, senior Jacobi Green had a breakout senior season, earning All-American and All-CAA accolades, on his way to over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns, two of the best single-season marks in program history. Green was a critical part of Richmond’s run to the FCS Semifinals, including a 138-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Spiders’ quarterfinal win at #2 Illinois State.

Woods, also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator in 2015 and 2016, helped Richmond back-to-back high profile recruiting classes, which has included 16 student-athletes hailing from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

His offensive prowess can’t be denied as Woods has produced countless NFL pros, most notably Virginia native former UVA standout Aaron Brooks, who went on to an All-Pro career with the New Orleans Saints.

Prior to joining the Spiders, Woods spent 17 years as a head coach at Appalachian State, South Carolina and VMI. In addition, he has 20 years of assistant coaching experience at both the collegiate and professional levels.

His most recent stop prior to Richmond came at VMI, where he spent seven seasons as the Keydets’ head coach. In his first season in Lexington, he guided VMI to four wins, the most the program had won in over five seasons.

Prior to VMI, Woods served as running backs coach at Alabama from 2003 through 2006. While in Tuscaloosa, Woods coached Tide running back Kenneth Darby to two consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and also mentored Shaud Williams, who led the SEC in rushing yardage in 2003 and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker award. The Tide also led the SEC in rushing for three consecutive seasons (2003, 2004, 2005).

Before his time in Tuscaloosa, he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Memphis (1995-96), Virginia (1997-98), and Mississippi State (1999-02).

Woods’ first head coaching experience began in 1984 when he turned Appalachian State into a I-AA power, guiding the Mountaineers to a 38-19-2 mark, two Southern Conference titles and two I-AA playoff appearances. The Southern Conference tabbed Woods as Coach of the Year for three consecutive years (1985-87) and he was also named Kodak Region II Coach of the Year in 1986. 

After his time at Appalachian State, Woods took over at South Carolina, guiding them to back-to-back six wins seasons to start his five-year tenure in Columbia.

As an assistant coach, Woods participated in five bowl games; the 2006 Cotton Bowl, 2004 Music City Bowl, 2000 Independence Bowl, 1999 Peach Bowl, and 1998 Peach Bowl. In 1994, Woods served as an offensive assistant for the New York Jets.

Woods is a 1976 graduate of Carson-Newman and began his coaching career at Tennessee later that year. In 1977, he moved to Kansas before serving one year as defensive backs coach at North Alabama in 1978. From 1979-82 he coached at Iowa State, handling the receivers, before joining Appalachian State in 1983 as offensive coordinator, quarterbacks, and running backs coach under Mack Brown. One year later, Woods was named head coach at Appalachian State.

Woods and his wife, Jean Ann, have two children, a son, Casey who is on the Auburn football staff, and a daughter, Emily who recently received her Masters degree from the University of Alabama.