You’ll have to excuse him if you were expecting his top eatery to be a higher-end restaurant or perhaps another more noticeable fast food chain. Wood lives in Buchanan, a town that sits on the border between Alabama and Georgia, and there is not much in the way of restaurants there.
“There’s nothing here except a Subway, a couple of gas stations and a grocery store – nothing big,” said Brandon Wood laughing. “It’s not that bad out here. You see a lot of horses and cows, and stuff like that. The school is out in the country and a pasture is right across the street.”
Pastures across the street from schools and few late night food choices – things work differently in small towns. Things are pronounced a little bit different in this small west Georgia town, too. Just like Martinez, which is on the state line with South Carolina is pronounced locally different than it “should” be, Buchanan – pronounced locally “Buck-anan” makes a writer want to double check his spelling.
But Wood doesn’t want it any other way. He was passionate about changing the fortunes of his high school football program, which made its first apperance in the state playoffs ever this fall. Perhaps the brightest star his county has seen in a long time, Wood defends his school and his hometown. “I can live with Subway,” he said. “That’s my favorite restaurant.” Wood will have several restaurant choices when he gets to Athens.
Less than a month after Georgia finished signing a consensus top-ten recruiting class early last year, the Bulldogs got word of their first commitment for the 2006 class. Haralson County’s Wood might not be from the biggest town in Georgia, but he is about as big a running back as you’ll see from any school.
So big, in fact, that he will likely play defensive end at Georgia when he arrives in Athens. A do-it-all player, Wood says there is no better place for him than Georgia.
“I’ve always been a big Georgia fan,” said the senior. “I have been up to Athens a bunch. I started going up there my sophomore year. I went up there for camp. One of my friends wanted me to come up there and I did – as a defensive end. I ended up doing pretty well.”
Because of the position he played, Wood figured out fast he was working with an intense coach in Jon Fabris. “I knew quick – I said ‘Oh boy, he is fixing to work me.’”
“They always told me that I was a good player, and they wanted me to come play for them. I never felt pressure from them. I felt like I was a part of the team when I went up there,” Wood said.
Wood’s 1,153 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior show just how athletic he is with the ball in his hands. On the other side of the ball Wood punished the opposition with 104 tackles and 14 sacks. Those numbers, along with his small high school background, instantly draw comparisons between him and former Georgia great and current New Orleans Saint Charles Grant.
Grant may have burned it up in high school while running the ball, but his future was in stopping the run and passing the ball. He found that out while at Georgia under Jim Donnan, who tried to use Grant on both sides of the ball. The risk did not pay off, however, as Grant was forced to recover from an ACL injury suffered in the 1999 Georgia Tech game while running the ball -- before realizing his full potential at defensive end. The same could hold true for Wood. He may get a look at running back, but all indications are that he will line up as a defensive end.
Also like Grant, Wood was one of the first players this season to get a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs. He said it was one thing to hear it from the coaches, but another thing to receive the offer in writing.
“They sent me the offer and they also sent my coach the same thing,” said Wood. “They pulled me out of class, and my coach was reading it to me. My mouth just fell open. I felt like crying. I couldn’t believe it.”
Now Wood, who says he's not that far from a qualifing test score, will likley get his shot on the football field. He’ll also have the chance to expand his palate at the scores of restaurants in the Classic City – that is after he gets his Subway fix.