Class of 2021 College Spotlight: Charles Woodson at Michigan



In honor of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, we’re looking back at the collegiate careers that set the foundation for these Hall of Famers.

Next up is Charles Woodson, who is still known as one of the greatest defensive players to grace the college game.


Charles Woodson — Michigan Wolverines, 1995-1997

Charles Woodson made an immediate impact in Ann Arbor, cementing himself as one of the best defensive backs in the nation during his freshman season. After two games, Woodson was named a starter and stayed that way for the rest of his collegiate career. During his first year, he led the Wolverines with five interceptions and eight turnovers total, carrying him to Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. 

Woodson’s playmaking skills led the Wolverines to use him in all three phases of the game. During his sophomore season, he started returning punts and kickoffs and even lined up at wide receiver at times throughout the year. He was still most effective in the secondary, intercepting four passes and setting a Michigan record with 15 pass breakups. 

His success earned him AP First-Team All-American and First-Team All-Big Ten honors. 

History was made in Woodson’s final season at Michigan as he became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. He recorded seven interceptions and amassed 283 punt return yards and one touchdown, leading the Wolverines to an undefeated record and a share of the National Championship. 

Woodson racked up several other awards in his third year and became one of the most prominent defensive players in college football history. With the acclaim, the trophies and a National Championship already in his pocket, Woodson decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 1998 NFL Draft. 

1998 NFL Draft

It didn’t take long for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to hear his name called on the NFL Draft stage. 

The Oakland Raiders selected Woodson with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played in Oakland for eight seasons before leaving the franchise in free agency. He would return to the team that drafted him in 2013.

Charles Woodson’s College Accolades

  • 1997 Heisman Trophy 
  • 1997 Walter Camp Award 
  • 1997 Bronko Nagurski Trophy
  • 1997 Chuck Bednarik Award
  • 1997 Jim Thorpe Award
  • 1997 Big Ten Player of the Year
  • 1997 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
  • 1995 Big Ten Freshman of the Year 
  • Two-time First-Team All-American

Michigan Wolverines in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

  • George Allen
  • Dan Dierdorf
  • Len Ford
  • Benny Friedman
  • Bill Hewitt
  • Elroy Hirsch
  • Steve Hutchinson
  • Ty Law
  • Tom Mack
  • Ralph Wilson Jr.
  • Charles Woodson

Attend Woodson’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement

Charles Woodson enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, and you can be there with an Official Ticket Package from Hall of Fame Experiences.




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