Ray Woodard has been at the helm of the Lamar football program since its resurrection six years ago -- a program that has seen incredible growth under Woodard's direction. Since an impressive five-win campaign in its first season back, Cardinals' fans have been witness to the consistent growth of the program -- a growth that has come at an accelerated rate over the course of the past two seasons.
As if trying to make a statement in the 2013 season-opener, the Cardinals set nine school records in the game -- which would be just a sample of things to come. Lamar set or tied nearly 50 team and individual records in 2013 and had three players receive All-America honors. In addition to the three All-Americans, Lamar also had a record 10 players named to the All-Southland Conference team, including three first-team selections. Freshman running back Kade Harrington was named Southland Freshman of the Year, while senior defensive end Jesse Dickson was named league defensive player of the year by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
Woodard's young charges continued the record-setting pace in 2014, which was capped by Lamar tying a school record for wins as a four-year program. Adding to the excitement of the eight-win season, Lamar picked up the record-setting victory at rival McNeese State on a field goal with seconds remaining. The win was Lamar's first against McNeese and against a nationally-ranked opponent since the sport's return to Beaumont.
For Lamar, the 2013 and 2014 seasons stand as the most successful two-year stretch since the program won 13 games between 1973 and 1974. In addition to the big wins and record-setting performances, more than 20 Cardinals have been named All-Southland Conference, including five All-Americans. To cap off the Cardinals success on the gridiron three players received invites to NFL camps.
All told, Woodard has produced 37 All-SLC selections, including four first-team players, five All-Americans -- including one Freshman All-American -- one CFPA National Punter Returner of the Year, one SLC Newcomer of the Year, one league freshman of the year and a conference student-athlete of the year.
Woodard's troops have made a habit of rewriting the LU record books during his time in Beaumont. In 2011, the Cardinals set seven individual and six team records. The 2011 season marked the first year Lamar was able to compete as a full member of the Southland Conference and Woodard guided the Cards to a pair of conference road wins on their way to a 4-7 overall record and a 2-5 league mark.
Lamar made its historic return to the gridiron in 2010. Not only did the Cardinals take the field for the first time since 1989, but they turned a lot of heads with their immediate success. In their very first game - at McNeese State - Lamar set a school record with 429 passing yards. McNeese was ranked 11th in the nation when the Cardinals put a scare into the Cowboys before falling 30-27. A week later, playing its home opener in front of 16,600 red clad fans, Lamar earned its first victory in over two decades by a 21-14 margin over Webber International.
Woodard guided the Cardinals to a 5-6 overall record that season, which included a 4-2 mark in newly refurbished Provost Umphrey Stadium while playing in front of capacity crowds in their first four home games.
Woodard was named the eighth football coach at Lamar by university president James Simmons and then athletics director Billy Tubbs on May 19, 2008. He came to Lamar after serving three seasons at Navarro College - the first two as defensive coordinator and the final as head coach. His 2007 squad went 9-3 and advanced to the conference playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
From 2003-05, Woodard served as the head football and track coach at Burton (Texas) High School, with the Panthers winning the district title in track in 2004. He spent two years as the defensive coordinator at Livingston High School (1998-2001) and one season at Trinity HS (1997-98).
Woodard spent three years as the defensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores from 2000-03 during his second stint with an NFL Europe franchise.
Woodard's other professional coaching experience came as the general manager/head coach for the Houston Outlaws (1999-2000) of the Regional Football League, defensive coordinator of the NFL Europe's Frankfurt Galaxy (1996-97) and the Texas Terror (1996) of the Arena Football League.
Woodard's first experience at the NCAA level came in 1998 when he was the defensive line coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. From 1988-95 Woodard was the defensive coordinator at Kilgore College and recruited more than 200 Texas high school student-athletes. The Rangers appeared in back-to-back Shrine Bowls in 1989 and 1990. Kilgore had a 9-2 record in 1990, won the conference championship and was ranked as high as No. 6 in the country.
Woodard also had a successful playing career, from his days at Corrigan-Camden HS to Kilgore College and the University of Texas to five years in the NFL. After earning 13 letters in four sports at Corrigan-Camden from 1975-79, he walked on at Kilgore College then went on to become a two-time All-America selection as a defensive tackle from 1980-81. The Rangers finished the 1980 season ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA rankings after posting a 10-1 record and winning the TJCFC Championship.
Woodard then finished his college career at Texas under coach Fred Akers. The 1982 team went 9-3 and finished the season ranked 17th nationally. As a senior, Woodard and the Longhorns posted a perfect 11-0 regular-season mark, captured the Southwest Conference championship and finished the season ranked fifth in the nation. Texas led the nation in total defense, yielding an average of 212 yards per game and surrendered less than 10 points per game.
Woodard was selected in the eighth round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He spent the next five seasons with the Chargers, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. He was a member of the Broncos' 1986 AFC Champion and Super Bowl team. Woodard received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology and history from Sam Houston State in 1988 and his master's in education from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1991. Woodard received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership last October.
Woodard and the former Penne Striedel have been married since March, 1982. The couple has one daughter, Jessica, who was married in April, 2010, to Eric Martin. Woodard and his wife also became proud grandparents on Apr. 23, 2012, as Trey DeSoto Martin was welcomed into the world.
RAY WOODARD YEAR-BY-YEAR