Two days after Ray Woodard accepted the new role as Navarro head football coach, he’s already getting his feet wet at the new position.

Woodard, along with other members of the program, made calls confirming that eight Bulldogs signed National Letters of Intent during Wednesday’s early signing period.

Three safeties — Ray Sims of Corsicana, Patrick Resby of Houston and Erik Robinson of Dallas — will continue their college career at Baylor University, the University of Kansas and the University of Hawaii, respectively.

Defensively, Bulldogs corner Dustin Calhoun of College Station and linebacker Rondal Wilson of Harleton will continue their careers at Tarleton State. Defensive end Freddie Harris of Carrollton heads north toward the University of Central Oklahoma.

On offense, Northeastern State (Okla.) got a package deal when it signed freshman quarterback Jarrett Beal of Duncanville and wide receiver Curtis Mayfield of Garland. The two will continue their careers on the field in Tahlequah, Okla.

Woodard said it was the success of those defensive players that helped land him the new position.

“We played well on defense because we had good players,” Woodard said. “When you’ve got one that went to Kansas, to Baylor and to Hawaii — that speaks volumes about not only about their performance on field, but how they did in the classroom. It made me a good coach.”

Sims will stay close to home as the former Tiger joins Baylor’s 2007 recruiting class, along with two other members of the current Tiger team — lineman Courtney Green and linebacker Chris Sanders.

With the Bulldogs loaded at the safety positions, Woodard moved the 6-foot, 210-pound sophomore to outside linebacker last spring to get more speed and one of his best players on the field.

“He had a good year,” the Bulldogs coach said. “He proved that he can play a little closer to the line of scrimmage and he’s never been afraid to hit someone. It was a really good move for us, and it was a really good move for Ray.”

Woodard said a few schools on the mainland “missed the boat” on Robinson.

Missing his sophomore season due to a knee injury that took place during a scrimmage with Kilgore before the 2005 season, Robinson (5-11, 190) redshirted the season and returned in 2006 stronger than before. Missing the season gave Robinson a “sleeper” role going into his final season with Navarro.

“He just played better and better every week,” Woodard said. “Hawaii’s getting a great football player and a great kid.”

Resby (6-2, 195) came to Navarro as a walk-on from Houston Forest Brook. With coaches not knowing much about their new arrival, Resby redshirted his first year, but it didn’t take long for the safety to start impressing the staff.

“You want to talk about a unique story,” Woodard said. “Your talking about a guy who did himself proud by coming to Navarro College. He came all the way from the walk-on program to a starter to an All-Conference player to signing with the University of Kansas.”

Bulldogs that will try walking on at the next level include tight end Ryan Benge of Mineral Wells (Texas Christian), along with Corsicana natives Josh Tackett (Texas Tech) and Jon Bauer (Sam Houston State).

The new coach tried reaching many of his current players, Wednesday, via telephone to touch base with them during the recruitment process while the players head home for the holidays.

According to Woodard, nearly three-quarters of the players he reached had not gotten word that he had been named their new head coach. Although the news was a surprise to many, Woodard said the response he received from his players was positive.

“Naturally, when there’s a change, there’s a concern because of a lot of uncertainty non knowing who their new coach is going to be,” Woodard said. “Being the recruiting coordinator here last year, I’ve recruited a lot of these young men in here. I think a lot of them feel comfortable with me.”

As of Wednesday, no players have informed the program of intentions to transfer to other colleges.

Woodard said many of the players could not be reached Wednesday on their plans for next season. The Bulldogs coach said that many players conduct their signings at home during the Christmas break.

As for the new coach, Wednesday’s signings marked Day 3 of the “Ray Woodard Era” at Navarro. One of his first acts as the new coach will be to bid farewell to the players that helped get him the role.

“It’s a big thing in their lives,” Woodard said. “We want to see all our young men go on to four-year institutions and do well.

“It’s really part of our job here to see to it that we give them every opportunity we can to play at the next level.”

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Phillip Barnhard may be contacted via e-mail at pbarnhard@corsicanadailysun.com.

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