The way Cory Magwood views it, football is a competition to make plays. Furman’s linebacker and resident tackling machine doesn’t see just 11 opponents, but 10 teammates who share his aim.
When the Paladins’ coaching staff moved the all-conference linebacker this season, it simply sharpened his resolve and resourcefulness.
“Having that mindset that I have to find the football, and it’s beating guys over there,” Magwood said. “It’s competing against not only the other guys, but against my teammates to make plays. It makes the game that much more enjoyable for me.”
Magwood concludes an outstanding career Saturday on ASN when Furman (4-6, 2-4 Southern Conference) faces rival Wofford (4-6, 2-4) in Spartanburg, S.C.
“Cory’s had a really good year,” Paladins head coach Bruce Fowler said. “He’s a guy that prepares really hard. Physically, he’s an explosive guy. Runs well. He’s gotten better and better this year, I think, at knowing the game better. He studies very hard, in week to week preparation, where his run fits are at linebacker. Gets in on a lot of tackles, pursues the ball. Pretty tenacious attitude about his effort.”
Magwood leads the Southern Conference in tackles (118) and is sixth in FCS with 11.8 tackles per game. He is the league’s active career leader in tackles (328), 20th on Furman’s all-time list. He needs just two tackles to move up to 19th, and if he hits his average he will be No. 16 on the career list.
Don’t misunderstand. Magwood doesn’t hunt stats; he hunts plays. The coaching staff moved him to the weak-side, or Will, linebacker this season, playing the boundary side of the defensive formation. That generally means a few more steps to get into the action, though you get the feeling that if the coaches lined him up in the press box, he’d still find a way to make plays.
“I make a lot of my tackles just from effort and hustle and running to the opposite side of the field,” he said.
Magwood, a Varnville, S.C., native, was an outstanding high school basketball player who had Division I opportunities, but chose football. He maintained his agility as he matured and bulked up, and he continues to play pickup hoops. He is a 6-3, 233-pound terror who can pretty much get anywhere he wants on the basketball court.
“With ease,” he said with a chuckle.
Magwood figures to repeat as a first-team all-conference pick and is half of an exceptionally productive linebacker tandem with teammate Carl Rider. He led the conference in tackles last season (123), and Rider led the league two years ago (136). Rider is presently sixth in the conference in tackles.
Magwood doesn’t base his performance solely on the number of tackles, though that’s an easy gauge for a linebacker.
“Whether I’ve played within the scheme and read my keys and the opportunities that I’ve had to make plays, then I feel like I’ve done my job,” he said. “Also, I base my success on how many points the other team scores. A lot of the games that we played this season, I feel like I could have done a lot better to stop that.”
Indeed, the Paladins will finish below .500 for the second consecutive season, a dip from their 2013 Southern Conference championship team. But Magwood, as a captain, takes it upon himself to keep his teammates engaged during a frustrating season.
“Just knowing that I have younger guys looking up to me and that if I give up, then they’re going to give up,” he said. “I love the guys I’m playing with, so I continue to show up to practice every day, working hard. The seniors, they haven’t given up. We never lay down or get down after a loss. We just come back strong the next week of practice and start fresh. Hopefully, that’ll help them in the future, just learning from how we approach things when things aren’t going our way.”