The date was Nov. 10, 2007.

That's the last time Blane Woodfin took a meaningful snap from center, in his senior year in high school.

Until Friday, that is, when Woodfin opened his first football practice at The Citadel as one of five quarterbacks competing for the starting job.

"I wouldn't really say I had any jitters," said Woodfin, whose journey to The Citadel took him from Jackson Hole, Wyo., to the to the Air Force Academy (almost) and Montana State. "I didn't feel anxious about it, just excited to get going. It felt good to be back out there."

Woodfin, a 6-0, 190-pound transfer who enters The Citadel as a redshirt sophomore, is battling with redshirt freshman Sam Martin and three true freshmen -- Ben Dupree, Matt Thompson and Steven Ballentine -- for the quarterback job as the Bulldogs transition to a new triple-option offense this season.

As a 20-year-old with three semesters at Montana State under his belt, Woodfin might have an edge in maturity on his fellow teammates. But he's also the furthest removed from football -- his last game was almost three years ago, in the Wyoming state high school championship game.

Woodfin led his Jackson Hole team to the state title that November day, and shortly thereafter accepted a scholarship offer from Air Force.

"I knew Air Force was where I wanted to go," Woodfin said. "I turned down other offers, didn't even apply to other schools. I knew Air Force was what I wanted."

But in the spring of his senior year, Woodfin found out that an irregular heart valve would not allow him to pass the Dept. of Defense physical exam to qualify for the Air Force, though it does not prevent him from playing football.

"A big disappointment for me," he said.

"I tried to keep my head up, but I honestly didn't know if I'd ever get the chance to play football again."

Woodfin joined his brother at Montana State for three semesters, but said "football never worked out for me there."

Meanwhile, childhood friend Douglas German had reported to The Citadel last year as a freshman receiver from Atlanta.

"He fell in love with The Citadel and told me all about it," said Woodfin, whose father had moved his orthopedic surgery practice from Atlanta to Jackson Hole. "He told me they were going to the triple option, and I told him I was looking to get out of Montana and get back down South. I sent my stuff to coach Higgins, and he offered me a spot."

Woodfin spent four weeks on campus in the Bulldogs' summer program, along with Dupree and Thompson, and is trying to get back into football shape. He bobbled a few snaps Friday, but said the Bulldogs' triple option is very similar to what he ran in high school.

"I feel good about my reads in this offense," he said. "It's really about trying to work on the center exchange. We had about five different centers rotating through, so there were a lot of changes there."

Higgins said he was impressed with all five quarterbacks and their knowledge of assignments for an opening practice.

"You can't make an evaluation after one day," he said. "But all five got reps today and that's what we wanted. Sam Martin worked this summer and looked like he knew what he was doing, and that was good to see."

Said Woodfin, "We've got some good healthy competition going. Sam has a little bit more experience from spring ball and is doing a great job. I'm glad he's out here, so the rest of us can watch him and learn."


Higgins said senior lineman Corey Pope, listed as the starter at right guard on the depth chart, has given up football for personal reasons. Pope was trying to come back from a torn ACL. That leaves redshirt freshman Jim Knowles (6-0, 281) as the No. 1 right guard ... Freshman Mike Sellers (6-0, 273) is opening his Citadel career at center after playing fullback and defensive line at Fort Dorchester High School. Higgins likes Sellers' athleticism at center in the triple option ... Walk-on QB Michael Paul of Wando High School will be able to practice when classes start on Aug. 25, Higgins said.