As hot as Clemson has been on the recruiting trail this summer, there have been the occasional misses.
Last week, RB target Jeremiah Cobb committed to Auburn and on Tuesday, DE target Keldric Faulk chose ACC rival Florida State over the Tigers. Outside of that, the misses have been few and far between of late.
Next up for Clemson is arguably the biggest target left on the board, as DL Peter Woods is set to announce on Friday. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound SI All-American candidate, out of Alabaster, Alabama, is generally considered one of the Top-25 players in the country and one of the five best defensive linemen in the class. He would be the crown jewel of the class, so to speak.
Woods sports upwards of 40 offers but this is a recruitment that has come down to Clemson and Alabama. Typically, these are the battles that the Tigers come up short in. 2022 DE Jeremiah Alexander comes to mind, who ironically, one year ago, announced a commitment to Alabama on the same day that Woods will announce.
That coming after it was thought that the Tigers had locked Alexander up after a June visit. However, after getting back home, something changed and Alexander became a member of the Crimson Tide's 2022 class instead.
However, this recruitment feels a little different. Woods, who has visited Clemson several times over the past year or so, feels like a perfect fit for Dabo Swinney's program. The culture inside the program really resonates with the highly-touted prospect, and there's a reason he's made so many visits. Something keeps drawing him back.
"The difference between Clemson and a lot of the other places I’ve been to is just the family atmosphere they have created," Woods told All Clemson after visiting for Elite Junior Day. "Everyone is like family, blood or not, and the culture coach Swinney has set, EVERYONE in the program has bought in."
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Then there's defensive tackles coach Nick Eason. While he's only been at Clemson for a short amount of time, his impact has already been heavily felt on the recruiting trail, and his relationship with Woods goes back to his days at Auburn.
"Me and coach Eason already had a great relationship prior to him being at Clemson with him recruiting me at Auburn," Woods said.
Clemson fans have become all too familiar with losing these kinds of recruiting battles. Nick Saban usually gets the players he wants out of that state, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Again, this is one that has a different feel. Like it might just play out a different way. Woods only took two visits in the month of June. An official to Clemson that first weekend of the month, then he made a trip to Tuscaloosa the final weekend of the month, but it wasn't your typical visit, as he had little to no contact with the coaching staff. He actually never took an official to Alabama, not that there was much of a need for one.
In between those two visits, he was supposed to take an official to Florida, but it never materialized. There was also talk of a June official to Oklahoma, but that one never happened either.
Woods has played things very close to the vest, particularly of late, but recent intel suggests that Clemson is sitting in very good shape as the commitment date approaches. Extremely good shape. Does that mean the Tigers have him locked up? Absolutely not, but there are reasons one might be cautiously optimistic.
One of Swinney's favorite sayings is 'the best is yet to come.' Maybe that infamous line just might apply in this instance and in regards to the 2023 class in general, as it stands today.
The Tigers, who went 10-3 in 2021 and finished 14th in the final Associated Press Poll, are the fourth team on FanDuel Sportsbook's list to win it all in 2022. Only reigning national champ Georgia (+200), runner-up Alabama (+200) and Ohio State (+800) are ahead of Clemson at +1000.
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