ROCKWALL -- University of Oklahoma offensive lineman Austin Woods is back home in Rockwall after a tough journey that started just after the spring game in April.
"I was pretty tired," he said.
That was the first sign something was wrong. The Sooner went to team doctors and soon learned he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Every two weeks he had to go through chemotherapy.
His coach, Bob Stoops, talked about Woods' journey.
“One day he would miss a Monday practice because he was in the hospital getting his chemotherapy, Tuesday he would be out there on the practice field," Stoops said.
Woods stayed in Oklahoma for his chemo treatments and surprised his team and coaches when he vowed to continue playing football.
“Football made me keep my mind off cancer, and I didn't let cancer define my life," Woods said.
Even with a port in his chest for treatments, the Sooners' deep snapper would put on his uniform and get on the field.
“It’s hard enough to be a college football player anyway, but to do it with a port in your chest and going through chemotherapy every two weeks, I just thought it was an amazing thing," said Don Woods, Austin's dad.
Woods learned to love football from his father, who is a football coach. But it was his mother who coached him through his toughest opponent. Elizabeth Woods is a breast cancer survivor who didn't miss a day of work when she went through chemo.
"Just keep the right attitude, even though the chemo knocks you down and doesn't make you feel good, but if you keep the right attitude, you keep a positive mentality, you can beat cancer," Austin Woods said.
Woods, who graduated from Rockwall High School, said he's grateful to be able to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Even as a child, this was a dream. He entered a drawing contest to go to the Cotton Bowl luncheon when he was in first and second grade and won both times.
He stood proudly at the luncheon as he was singled out.
"He is the first contest winner to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic," said local sports media personality Brad Sham.
Woods is now in remission, which he said is the greatest victory of his life