Last Friday, Clemson reached into Alabama and won another recruiting battle with the Crimson Tide. This time, for DT Peter Woods of Alabaster. The 2023 prospect joins quarterback Christopher Vizzina as pledges to leave the “Yellowhammer State” for the Upstate of South Carolina. Last season, Woods posted 92 total tackles, 26 for loss, with 11 sacks and a pick-six for Thompson High School.
Following his commitment, Thompson High School head coach Mark Freeman discussed Woods’ selection of the Tigers and what Dabo Swinney and his staff are getting in return.
“Great family, great kid. Been with us since he was a little boy,” Freeman said. “He’s been raised in Alabaster, and he started playing for us in the eighth grade. He was just a guy that I felt like when he was mature enough physically, that was going to be a good player. I would rather us have our hands on them every year we can, and so we pulled him up, and I think he actually played in the state championship game. He’s been with us a while, and he’s never been in my office for any kind of misbehavior or anything. And we have really good kids, and a lot is expected out of them with a lot of accountability and things. Like I said, Peter has never been in trouble in his life and is just a great, great leader for us now.”
Freeman remembers fondly Woods’ initial crack at varsity-level football.
“You knew the first practice he had with us as an eighth grader. We pulled him up and we thud in practice,” Freeman reflected. “We’re just getting our timing in and we’re not going to the ground. And we’ve got a running back right now that starts in Charlotte (Shadrick Byrd) and Woods just drilled him. First play he was in there; he just drills our running back. And so, you knew then this guy, he means business. And so really you had a sense of awareness right there. His motor is always running, and he enjoys the physical part of football. But we knew last year Peter was a special player. We had Jeremiah Alexander, who is at Alabama right now, and they kind of anchored that defense.”
What exactly made Woods a coveted recruit?
“He’s got such a powerful and fast first step. He’s really good with his hands. He’s athletic. So, when he explodes, he explodes with a lot of leverage,” his head coach explained. “Uses his hands really good just off blockers. And then he ran a 4.6 (40-yard dash) three times in a row for us in April. He can run. He has that explosion in his hands, and he is such a physical kid. Like I said, he explodes into the defenders and uses his hand so well. They just can’t get on him with their blocking. Just really good instincts, too, for a big guy. Got great, great instincts on where the ball is going.”
Freeman said that Clemson did a great job of recruiting Woods, but one of the main reasons that head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff won out was that Clemson feels like home.
“When he came back from the official visit, I asked him about the trip, and he said it went great,” Freeman recalls. “When he discussed with me about what he planned on doing, he told me it felt like he was walking through his house. The coaches were like his high school coaches. They had young kids running around, and I have our coaches let their young kids come to us a lot, and I think it felt a lot like home to him. And I think they did a really good job expressing that they’re worried about him being a complete person. I don’t really get into recruiting with the kids, but I think they just did a great job on convincing him that it was going to be a lot like the culture he was used to and they were going to try to develop him as a total person as well as football player.”
You can hear more about Woods and his decision to commit to the Tigers as Mark Freeman joined SportsTalk on Monday (07-11) night.