The stars were out in the game of the week in Alabama on Friday, as defending Class 7A state champion Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson High hosted fellow undefeated program Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt-Trussville High School.
Three of the players in the game are SI99-ranked prospects while more than a dozen have the chance to play FBS football. Naturally, multiple college coaching staffs sent assistants out to check in on the Birmingham-area affair, which Thompson controlled in a 42-9 win.
Clemson had assistants on hand, including defensive line coach Todd Bates, likely keeping an eye on the elite junior sporting Clemson gloves in defensive lineman Peter Woods.
"Came out after a great week of preparation, and this is what we expected," Woods said of the convincing win. "If you just take all the tools that we have, pull them out of the tool box and start working together, we can beat anybody. That's just the message we're trying to send."
Clemson is one of 30-plus programs with an offer in to the 6'3", 260-pounder. Bates is an Alabama native who has been tracking the class of 2023 prospect for quite some time.
"Todd Bates is a really cool guy," he said. "Constant communication every week. They're in the top in terms of communication, always communicating with me and making sure my family is straight."
At a program like Thompson, which has sent droves of prospects to the Power 5 and beyond, playing in front of college coaches has become routine.
"No pressure at all, soon I'll be playing for a college coach, or against them," Woods said. "They're out here to watch me and they will at the next level, too.
"I'm just taking my time. I'll worry about it after the season, after I'm done getting the blue map (Alabama state championship) with my teammates."
The Tigers aren't the only program in with Woods on a consistent basis since the communication window with junior prospects opened on Sept. 1.
"Alabama is like that, Florida hits me up about every day, LSU hits me up constantly, a whole bunch of other schools," he said. "It's early, so there's a lot of schools still in it.
"I've been to Alabama...saw them play Mercer. The atmosphere is just consistent and it's in and out, just 45 minutes down the road. Very consistent, the fans, the players, great relationships. It's comfortable."
Woods' most high profile teammate on the Warriors defense is No. 1 edge prospect Jeremiah Alexander. The top 10 overall prospect in the senior class is a commitment to Nick Saban and Alabama and has been for some time. The two rush the passer with prowess together on Friday nights, combining for five sacks against Hewitt-Trussville, and there is a chance it continues on Saturdays given how the elder Warrior defender has remained in the ear of his teammate.
"It's been that way for a minute, Jeremiah was committed before he committed, I guess you can say," Woods said. "It's been that way for a while and with how close we are it's like, 'come play with me.'
"Jeremiah is like my older brother, I've been learning a lot from him and vice versa. We've been doing this together for a long time. The chemistry is there, we're bringing the other guys along with leadership, so it's great."
More game visits lie ahead for the top junior, including a trip to Clemson for its Florida State matchup in late October. Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida and LSU were also mentioned as potential game day visit destinations this fall.
Thompson, ranked as the No. 5 high school football program nationally by SB Live, and its vaunted defense has allowed just 9 points through five games in 2021.
The Warriors next face another undefeated regional foe Friday night, on the road at Birmingham (Ala.) Mountain Brook High School.