And Woods did it for one simple reason – family.
“A big part of who I am as a person and just being so close to my family and knowing that I have another family away from home,” he told ESPN. “And then the Clemson staff and the Clemson players and just knowing that staff is going to do whatever it takes to make me a better man at the end of the day, regardless of how I succeed at football. That’s all you can ask for.”
Woods, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle from Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama, is No. 9 in the 2023 ESPN 300. He chose Clemson over Alabama, Florida and Jackson State.
The Tigers’ recruiting class is sixth in ESPN’s latest team rankings and Woods is their seventh ESPN 300 prospect. Twelve players committed to Clemson in June as Dabo Swinney and his staff kicked things into high gear.
Woods is the second ESPN 300 recruit to jump on board for the Tigers this week, following offensive tackle Zechariah Owens (No. 135) on July 4.
As a junior last year, Woods recorded 92 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks for Thompson High School.
“Defensively, I feel like my versatility is probably going to be what sets me apart from a lot of guys that they have on the team and that they’re recruiting,” Woods said. “Just being able to kind of be that guy who can play inside, outside, stand up all the way down to a ‘zero’ technique if I have to.”
He knew where most people expected him to go. By spurning Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, Woods is taking his future into his hands by doing things his way.
“I think people are going to be crazy surprised,” Woods said. “I mean, that’s kind of what I expected. A lot of people did expect me to be a ”Bama lock,’ or a ”Bama lean’ or a ‘Bama bot,’ as I’ve heard. That’s just not the story. I write my own narrative and I just don’t feel like wherever I grew up should dictate where I feel like is the best place for me.”