If you find yourself at a Charlotte Christian football game on Friday night, you will sit in awe as you watch the star running back exploit and destroy the opposing defense. You will see a young player with passion burning in his eyes, while every muscle in his body moves him towards the field, anxiously waiting to get back out there. You will see an animal.
However, if you pass this same young man in the hallway at school, you will see a different side of Justus Woods. While many only see the fierce competitor, those who see him on a daily basis get to know a different side. They know Justus as the guy who constantly wears a sparkling smile and is always willing to lend a helping hand.
Justus first found a love for football when he was a mere eight years old. While he started as an offensive lineman, it wasn’t long before he was moved to running back. Ever since then, he has worked to become one of the top running backs in the country.
Not surprisingly, Justus has done just that. He has great vision and is able to recognize gaps opening up in the defense, and run straight through them.
He has grown to admire Wayne Gallman, the running back for Clemson University. Gallman’s ability to run with extreme aggression and power are skills Justus has tried to implement into his personal style.
After arriving to Charlotte Christian School freshman year, Justus quickly made a name for himself. He made the Varsity team as a freshman and became the second go-to man to hand the ball off to, behind current Duke running back Elijah Deveaux.
Players and coaches knew Justus possessed something special. They had witnessed it in practice for months. However, it was during his first game, when he scored a 50-yard touchdown against one of the top public schools in the country, that everyone in the stands started talking about him.
Justus Woods had arrived, and it was the first of many plays he would make that would leave fans and critics speechless. To this day, it is still the biggest highlight of this career.
Rivals.com ranks Justus as the seventh best running back in the country. Last season as a sophomore, he ran 91 times for 647 yards and seven touchdowns.
Halfway through his junior season, Justus has already received offers from Wisconsin, Northwestern, Virginia, Elon, and East Carolina. Many schools, including Stanford and Wake Forest, have expressed serious interest in him.
“I just think the school that I choose needs to feel like home,” says Justus. “Of course academics come first, but in terms of football, I’m just looking for a school where I can easily connect with the players and the coaching staff. And hopefully, play a role in helping them win games.”
Even though Justus has encountered many successes along his journey, he makes sure to not credit himself. Instead, he brings light to the amazing coaching staff he works with.
“Every week they come up with the perfect game plan to exploit our opponent’s weaknesses,” says Justus.
Most importantly, he gives credit to God. He understands that without God, he would not be in the position he is today. Not only has God opened many doors for him, but He has also been with him during all struggles and setbacks.
His faith has been strengthened during times of adversity. This season, he has faced difficulties with an injury. After injuring his hamstring during track season, the lagging effects of pain have inhibited his ability to perform in football and this has caused frustration and discouragement.
Remembering the constant pain, he says, “It got to the point where I just had to trust God, that He had a plan.”
His favorite Bible verse, Colossians 3:23-24, really says it all about who Justus is as an athlete. Through the many touchdowns, records, awards, and offers, Justus remembers these verses to remind him to glorify God in everything he does, and not himself.
Because of his strong faith, he has adopted the life motto of “just trust in God”. God has revealed himself to Justus in good times and bad and always expresses the love He has for him and the great plan He has in store. Knowing this has helped Justus understand that every setback is a part of God’s plan.
For now, Justus, along with his team, are focused on winning a State Championship. After winning the title three years in a row, Charlotte Christian lost to rival Charlotte Latin in the playoffs last season. Because of this, they know what it feels like to come close, but fall short.
“It added fuel to our fire and we as a team determined early on in the season that we were never going to taste that bitter feeling again,” says Justus.
Looking towards the future, Justus keeps in mind the great advice his dad has given him. “He told me not to let my football career define me. I am more than just a football player regardless if I play well or not.”
With just under two years left of his high school career, decisions about the future are weighing heavily on him. Wherever he decides to spend his college years, he has one goal - to become the best student-athlete he can possibly be.
The Charlotte Christian community greatly looks forward to seeing what the future holds for number 21, and cannot wait to cheer him on at the next level.
Justus’ Advice: My advice would just be to follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. It doesn’t matter what people say you can’t do, it matters what God says you CAN do. And also to just have fun in the process of whatever you do.