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5-star Clemson football recruit: Deion Sanders is ‘trying to holler at me’

Sanders, an NFL legend, accepted Colorado’s head coaching job last weekend. Now he’s trying to flip the Tigers’ top 2023 recruit.

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Five-star defensive line recruit Peter Woods says he’s “100 percent locked in” to Clemson after verbally committing to the Tigers this summer.

The splashiest hire of the 2022 coaching carousel wants to make sure.

Speaking to reporters ahead of this week’s Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Football Game, Woods said that former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders is “trying to holler at me and see how solid I am with my recruitment” after accepting Colorado’s head coaching job over the weekend.

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Woods, the No. 32 recruit in the Class of 2023 per 247Sports Composite rankings, also said he’s in “constant communication” with Alabama defensive line coach Freddie Roach, a close friend, as the Dec. 21-23 early signing period approaches.

But don’t count on him flipping.

“My Clemson family hits me up more than anybody else,” Woods said Tuesday, per Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. “Even after I committed, they still recruit me.”

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Woods, a senior at Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama, immediately became the top recruit in Clemson’s 2023 class — and arguably the most prominent — when he committed July 8.

Alabama was Woods’ hometown program and a school that had a “99%” chance to land his commitment heading into the summer, per one recruiting analyst. But Clemson made waves with an June official visit and built serious momentum with Woods amid a 2023 recruiting tear.

Woods also included Florida and Jackson State (then under Sanders) as finalists, but he ultimately landed on the Tigers due to close relationships with defensive line coach Nick Eason and defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin.

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Listed at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, Woods will also have an opportunity to contribute right away for Clemson, which could realistically lose a majority of its 2022 defensive line to graduation or the 2023 NFL Draft.

Sophomore defensive tackle Bryan Bresee and junior defensive end Myles Murphy are both listed as top 10 draft prospects by Pro Football Focus; super senior defensive end K.J. Henry is out of eligibility; and junior defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro and fifth-year senior defensive end Xavier Thomas are both undecided on returning to Clemson next season.

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The Tigers could also lose fifth-year senior defensive end Justin Mascoll, who walked for Senior Day, and saw junior defensive end Kevin Swint enter the transfer portal earlier this week.

All of which makes Woods, announced Monday as the 2022 MaxPreps Alabama High School Football Player of the Year, that much more important to coach Dabo Swinney’s 2023 squad.

Woods had 83 total tackles, 21.0 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and two fumble recoveries as a senior for Thompson (11-1). He finished his prep career with 70 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, a 50-5 record and four consecutive state titles in Alabama’s largest high school classification.

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Listed with a 0.9848 player rating on 247Sports, Woods is the top recruit in Clemson’s 23-member class of 2023. Five-star quarterback Christopher Vizzina (No. 36), four-star defensive lineman Vic Burley (No. 55), four-star defensive lineman Tomarrion Parker (No. 94) and four-star interior offensive lineman Harris Sewell (No. 96) also rank as top 100 Clemson commits.

As of now, Woods plans to sign his national letter with Clemson during the Dec. 21-23 early period and enroll mid-year in January, per Clemson247.

Jackson State coach Deion Sanders watches players warm up for the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Southern, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Sanders is taking over as coach at Colorado, bringing his charisma and larger-than-life persona to a beleaguered Pac-12 program that’s plunged to the bottom of college football. The deal was announced Saturday night by CU athletic director Rick George. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Jackson State coach Deion Sanders watches players warm up for the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Southern, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Sanders is taking over as coach at Colorado, bringing his charisma and larger-than-life persona to a beleaguered Pac-12 program that’s plunged to the bottom of college football. The deal was announced Saturday night by CU athletic director Rick George. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sanders, a former Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback, brought unprecedented attention and success to Jackson State, a Mississippi HBCU that competes in the Division I FCS Southwestern Athletic Conference, before taking the Colorado job.

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Sanders’ Tigers went undefeated in the SWAC for the second-straight season in 2022, and they’re 23-2 in their past 25 games with only one win by fewer than 10 points, per ESPN.

Sanders is also a recruiting guru who got No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter to flip from Florida State to Jackson State during last year’s early signing period.

Outside of his attempts to flip Woods from Clemson, “Coach Prime” has already picked up a commitment from a five-star 2025 wide receiver and “supercharged Colorado’s recruiting, (and) relevance in less than two days,” as a USA TODAY headline put it.

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