Today is July 2, 2019, which means we are officially just 60 days from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. While we’ve been focusing heavily on the offensive line in the past two weeks, we move back over to the defense with No. 60, Woody Baron.
Baron arrived in Blacksburg back in 2013 from Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tn., just outside of Nashville. At 6’1”, 264 pounds, Baron was a three-star prospect who was considered a defensive end when he was recruited. However, we know how Bud Foster likes undersized and super-athletic defensive tackles and Baron fit that profile to a tee.
The story behind Baron’s interest in Virginia Tech is a familiar one. Family connections put Baron on the radar of the Hokies as Woody’s uncle, James (Jim) Baron, was a Hokie back in 1994 and 1995. Much like his nephew, Jim Baron played defensive tackle for the Hokies, finishing with seven sacks in his two seasons in Blacksburg. Jim Baron is perhaps best known to Virginia Tech fans as the player who had the fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter win over Texas in the 1995 Sugar Bowl. He was a key cog in that 1995 team that put the Hokies on the national radar.
As for Woody, he grayshirted in 2012 and enrolled the following season. While playing time was rare, Baron spent his time in Tech’s weight room, getting bigger and stronger, but also learning from Hokie veterans. He would get some time in the lineup, especially in 2014, as he appeared in four games and flashed.
Finally, Baron’s time came in 2015 and he took full advantage. He played in 10 games, had eight tackles for loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles. He became an indispensable part of the defensive line rotation during his junior season. He was set up for a big senior season.
As a senior in 2016, Baron played in all 14 games, making 56 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Baron used his quickness to disrupt opposing running games and did plenty of damage in the opposition’s backfield, too. Baron had one of the better seasons for a Hokie defensive tackle in the Bud Foster era and was the perfect player to carry Tech’s lunch pail. He was a hard worker who paid his dues and had the respect of his teammates and coaches.
Virginia Tech has done well with players like Baron. High-character guys who work hard and are good athletes. Baron certainly fit that profile. Think the Hokies could use Baron now? Even though they’ve had Tim Settle and Ricky Walker since Baron left, neither quite matched Baron’s production.
After his time at Tech, Baron signed with the Dallas Cowboys. His size was always going to hurt him in the NFL unfortunately. Does Baron belong on an NFL roster? Absolutely. It’s just teams can’t get over a 6’1”, 275-pound defensive tackle unless that player is Aaron Donald. Baron has gone on to play in the CFL with Montreal Alouettes. In 2018, Baron had four sacks and looks like a future impact player in that league.
Another impressive feat for Baron is he co-authored a children’s book in 2018 with the Hokie Bird as a main character. He wrote the book, JustaGobbler, with his uncle James and Henry Taylor. Do Woody a favor and head over to Amazon and pick up a copy for the young Hokie in your life.
Woody Baron will be remembered most for his fantastic 2016 season. Here’s hoping Woody finds his way onto an NFL roster sometime soon.