Jesse Woods has continued to both identify and develop talent through six seasons as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. Woods has recruited five classes in the top 45 nationally to Notre Dame, while mentoring nine all-conference selections and eight Major League draft picks among the program’s non-pitchers.
The 2016 campaign saw Cavan Biggio reach base at a .473 clip (ninth in the ACC), thanks mostly to the free pass. Biggio walked 54 times, ranking fourth in the ACC and 12th nationally. He parlayed that into a fifth round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays, the highest selection of a non-pitcher Irish player since 2013.
In 2015, the Irish returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, thanks in large part to a greatly improved offense. Kyle Fiala and Robert Youngdahl both increased their batting average to over .290, earning third team All-ACC honors, while as a team the Irish hit 42 homers (compared to 11 the previous season). Catcher Ryan Lidge was a nominee for the Johnny Bench Award thanks to playing 57 games behind the dish with a .992 fielding percentage and 17 runners caught stealing.
Woods helped the Irish embark on a new era in 2014, competing among the nation’s best in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time while playing just six games at Frank Eck Stadium after winter weather delayed the installation of a new playing field. One of the bright spots was behind the plate, where Forrest Johnson and Lidge combined for just two errors and eight passed balls all season.
The 2013 season saw two of Woods’ most prolific proteges cap their career in Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini. Jagielo was named BIG EAST Player of the Year and second team All-American after leading the conference in on-base (.500) and slugging (.633) percentage while adding nine homers and 53 RBI. Mancini led the league in batting average (.389), triples (seven) and total bases (138). As a team, the Irish hit .276 while showcasing both power (26 homers) and the ability to manufacture runs by finishing among the top 25 nationally in sacrifice flies and sacrifice bunts.
Woods’ first season at Notre Dame coincided with a nationwide dip in offense after the introduction of new standards for bats, but the offense immediately rebounded in 2012. Jagielo and Mancini gave the Irish the only lineup in the BIG EAST with multiple players over 10 home runs. The team batting average jumped nearly 40 points to .277 while Joe Hudson led the team with a .332 average en route to selection by the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth round of the MLB Draft.
Prior to his time at Notre Dame, Woods spent three seasons at Boston College on head coach Mik Aoki’s staff. In Chestnut Hill, Woods mentored catcher Tony Sanchez to first team All-ACC honors in 2009, the first BC player ever to receive first team all-conference honors from the league. He also coached MLB Draft selections Barry Butera, Robbie Anston and John Spatola with the Eagles.
He spent three seasons at Wheaton College (Massachusetts) as an assistant coach, helping them to three conference titles and NCAA regionals, as well as a run to the 2006 Division III National Championship game.
Woods played four seasons at first base, catcher and outfield for Wheaton, reaching the Division III NCAA Championship three times and serving as a co-captain as a senior. He graduated from Wheaton in 2004 with a degree in history.
He and his wife, Danielle, reside in Granger, Indiana, with their child, Caden.
Irish Hitters in MLB Draft
- 2011 - Matt Scioscia (Angels/45th), Robert Youngdahl (Red Sox/37th)
- 2012 - Joe Hudson (Reds/6th)
- 2013 - Eric Jagielo (Yankees/1st), Trey Mancini (Orioles/8th), Charlie Markson (Brewers/38th)
- 2015 - Conor Biggio (Astros/35th)
- 2016 - Cavan Biggio (Blue Jays/5th), Torii Hunter Jr. (Angels/23rd)
Irish All-Conference Hitters
- 2011 - Trey Mancini (third)
- 2012 - Joe Hudson (second), Eric Jagielo (second), Trey Mancini (third)
- 2013 - Eric Jagielo (first), Trey Mancini (first), Ryan Bull (third)
- 2015 - Kyle Fiala (third), Robert Youngdahl (third)