Pressuring the quarterback has never been more imperative than in today's pass-happy climate. To that end, Clemson added a key piece to its defensive line for 2023 with a commitment from Peter Woods.
The Alabaster, Alabama, native is the No. 3 defensive lineman in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's also the 23rd-best player in the country.
In March 2021, Gabe Brooks of 247Sports compared Woods to former Michigan standout Rashan Gary, who was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft:
"Stout defensive line prospect with potential for personnel flexibility across multiple schemes. Good height and enough frame space to add more mass. ... Flashes impressive suddenness and functional athleticism relative to size and age. Displays consistent disengaging ability to shed vs. run. Flashes some pass-rush nuance beyond his years. Athletic enough to be a threat from the backside. Strong at the point of attack and arrives at the ball with conviction. Seems like an extremely high-floor prospect with plenty of long-term potential as well."
A leg injury cost Woods all but six games of the 2020 season with Thompson High School. The squad still reached the state title game, where he had five tackles.
Thompson boasted another 5-star talent on defense in Jeremiah Alexander. Alexander, an Alabama commit, was the top edge defender in 247Sports' 2022 composite rankings. Pairing Alexander and Woods together almost wasn't fair.
With the former moving on to the Crimson Tide, the latter has the opportunity to showcase himself in an even bigger way. Tigers fans will be eager to see what he does in 2022 before arriving in Clemson.
As much as Clemson has benefited from stellar quarterback play to become a perennial College Football Playoff contender, the front seven has often set the tone for the Tigers.
The program didn't have a single defensive lineman selected in the 2020, 2021 or 2022 NFL drafts, though. It's not entirely a coincidence Clemson has had slowly diminishing returns since winning a national championship in 2018.
Perhaps Woods can help the Tigers return to the point where they boast one of the most fearsome front sevens in FBS.