IOWA CITY, Iowa | LeVar Woods knows the layout in Iowa City.
The product of West Lyon High School played at the University of Iowa from 1998-2000, starting for two years at outside linebacker. He’s been in the program on a daily basis since 2008 as an administrative assistant
Now the 34-year-old Woods joins the Hawkeye coaching staff on a full-time basis, replacing retired defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Norm Parker.
Woods’ familiarity with his surroundings and staff members -- sans the brand new indoor facility still under construction just west of Kinnick Stadium -- has helped him adapt quickly.
“This is comfortable for me,” Woods said. “This is the university I went to school at. The head coach (Kirk Ferentz) is the same. The coaches are the same. There’s some changes, but a lot of the faces are the same.”
That being said, Woods admits to having a few jitters as he embarks on his first full season as a full-time coach.
“I don’t know if I ever felt really prepared per se, but I felt comfortable,” said Woods, who played seven seasons in the NFL.
“After a little bit of coaching I was nervous to start, but I feel good about it.”
Parker, who was Woods’ position coach, is still a regular in the Iowa football offices since retiring. Woods said his old mentor has helped smooth the transition.
“It’s always great to see Norm,” Woods said. “With any questions I may have, I can ask him and if he doesn’t know the answer or says, ‘Maybe there’s a different way to do it’, he’ll let me know.”
It also helps that Woods has an experienced group of linebackers. Last season’s top two tacklers in juniors James Morris and Christian Kirksey lead the way, with junior Anthony Hitchens, a two-year letterman, in the mix to start at the other linebacker position.
“We have 12 linebackers,” Woods said. They’re all in there working hard, focused on improvement every single day.”
Morris and Kirksey are also being counted on for leadership, especially with fall practice just beginning.
“As linebackers, you’re trying to build that tight core and also bringing everybody together as a family,” Woods said. “When you can do that to push forward with some of the young guys that have just arrived, they fall in line with the guys that have experience.”
Woods said not to expect too many changes, schematically, now that Iowa’s defense is under control of a different Parker. Longtime defensive backs coach Phil Parker (no relation to Norm) has been elevated to defensive coordinator in Norm Parker’s stead.
Of course, Woods noted, there’s always room for a few added wrinkles.
“Coach (Phil) Parker will call those calls, but I think they will be very similar,” Woods said.
“Some of the key elements will be, there but we’ll add a few twists to it.”