The Fourth of July week fireworks we foreshadowed earlier this week finally exploded Friday night. And what a boom it generated.
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Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson four-star defensive lineman Peter Woods announced his commitment to Clemson. Woods had been a projection to Clemson by Tigerillustrated.com.
Woods (6-2, 265), ranked No. 57 nationally by Rivals.com, picked the Tigers over stated finalists Alabama, Florida and Jackson State. UGA, Ohio State, Auburn, Texas, Oklahoma, LSU and many others courted him as well.
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But the home-standing Tide also accounted for the team to beat, and Alabama by and large tends to get the in-state prospects it covets.
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Make no mistake, Woods was one at the top of everyone’s wish list — making this recruiting victory arguably the biggest statement yet in favor of Clemson still boasting the cachet many media and observers contended it had lost after last season and amid the changing college football landscape.
Clemson pulled a stunner in stealing five-star receiver Justyn Ross out of Alabama with the 2018 class, and this triumph perhaps matches if not surpasses in significance.
Woods has been publicly pegged as a foregone conclusion to the Tide for the majority of his recruitment.
His high school’s other big-name prospects — Taulia Tagovailoa and last year’s mutual Clemson target, defensive end Jeremiah Alexander — have all matriculated to Alabama. Moreover, Woods is known to have grown up a Bama fan amid a pro-Tide family and has been to its campus countless times.
Yet as we framed for subscribers last month, when faith and family are priorities in a recruitment, Clemson has a real chance.
“Clemson is so family oriented,” Woods told Tigerillustrated.com earlier this year. “Family is such a big thing. The culture around the program — you know, some people tell you what they’re going to do when you go on these visits. Clemson, they do a really good job of showing it and just letting you see a day in the life there. That’s something I feel I could really like through my college experience.”
Two years ago, the Tigers attracted Woods and his parents to the Dabo Swinney Camp to begin their potential courtship. As we frequently wrote, we considered Clemson to be Bama’s greatest threat for Woods on culture and relationships.
Todd Bates played a huge hand in getting the Tigers in the competition. Then the lead recruiter torch passed to new defensive tackles coach Nick Eason, who had already been chasing Woods for Auburn.
Eason’s presence breathed new life into Clemson’s chances, while Swinney was also heavily involved personally in this pursuit.
Woods was a headliner for the Tigers’ major official visit weekend to kick off June, and our information indicated the weekend could not have gone better from Clemson’s standpoint.
But a month is a long time to go when someone with Bama’s muscle and shadow loom over the shoulder.
Woods was a no-show for his Florida official visit and didn’t wind up arranging one with Bates and Oklahoma.
Then the last weekend in June, Woods did travel to Tuscaloosa but it didn’t amount to a recruiting visit with Tide coaches involved, another telling sign.
We informed readers a couple of weeks ago that Bama had figured out the increased threat Clemson presented.
The Tigers simply needed Woods to remain resolute and for nothing to change. It didn’t, and TigerIllustrated.com unveiled its projection for Woods to Clemson earlier this morning.
Woods becomes the 17th member of Clemson’s recruiting class, joining Odessa (TX) four-star offensive lineman Harris Sewell, Austin (TX) four-star offensive lineman Ian Reed, McDonough (Ga.) four-star offensive lineman Zechariah Owens, Rome (Ga.) four-star defensive tackle Stephiylan Green, College Park (Ga.) four-star defensive end A.J. Hoffler, Alpharetta (Ga.) four-star linebacker Dee Crayton, Warner Robins (Ga.) four-star defensive lineman Vic Burley, Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian four-star quarterback Christopher Vizzina, Atlanta (Ga.) St. Christopher four-star corner Branden Strozier, Warminster (Pa.) tight end Markus Dixon, Riverview (Fla.) Sumner four-star safety Kylen Webb, Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake four-star corner Avieon Terrell, Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek four-star linebacker Jamal Anderson, Rockwall (Texas) four-star receiver Noble Johnson, Washington (D.C.) St. John’s College four-star end David Ojiegbe and Naples (Fla.) tight end Olsen Henry.
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