Woodaz, who Swinney calls 'similar to' Simmons, excited to be a part of Clemson family

Woodaz, who Swinney calls 'similar to' Simmons, excited to be a part of Clemson family

Recruiting

Woodaz, who Swinney calls 'similar to' Simmons, excited to be a part of Clemson family

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Among the Clemson commitments in the 2022 class who were on campus for their official visits this past weekend was Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) three-star linebacker Wade Woodaz.

Woodaz, who pledged to the Tigers on Thanksgiving Day, arrived on campus Friday evening and concluded his official visit Sunday afternoon.

“I loved it,” Woodaz told The Clemson Insider. “It was awesome. The highlight for me was just spending quality time with the coaches and the staff. And then, also the other commits and getting to know who I’m gonna be teammates with.”

His official visit experience wasn’t like anything he’s ever experienced before.

“A lot of people, they throw around the word ‘family,’ but when I say Clemson is family, it is,” Woodaz said. “I went to Coach Dabo’s house — I did not do that anywhere else — It might’ve been because it was a non-contact period, but just him inviting us to his house and having us for dinner. No one else does that.”

While Clemson’s former defensive coordinator Brent Venables spearheaded Woodaz’s recruitment and played a role in sealing his verbal commitment, the Sunshine State product never doubted his decision for a second, even in the wake of Venables’ departure to Oklahoma. 

This past weekend’s official visit helped reaffirm that he was making the right choice in coming to Clemson.

“It’s my dream school,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s there, Clemson’s been my dream school. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Still, this past weekend allowed Woodaz to meet his new position coach and co-defensive coordinator for the first time in Wesley Goodwin. Clemson made Goodwin’s promotion official Tuesday. He agreed to a new three-year contract and will make $850,000 annually.

“I definitely trust him in what he’s going to be doing because he was behind Coach Venables,” Woodaz said of the former defensive analyst. “He knows how the system works. I just trust him.”

Woodaz agreed that he left campus Sunday feeling like he was being placed in good hands between Goodwin, Dabo Swinney and the remainder of Clemson’s coaching staff.

With that being said, what was Clemson’s head coach’s message to the nine official visitors, including Woodaz?

“That the culture hasn’t changed and that it’s gonna stay the same,” he said. “That matters, which I’m really happy about.”

Woodaz officially put pen to paper with the Tigers on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for class of 2022 football recruits.

He’s excited about the makeup of Clemson’s 2022 recruiting class, even with some decommitments coming over the past week.

“I feel like we’re all on the same page,” Woodaz said. “We’re all hard workers and ready to get after it. There’s a lot of people that have been doubting us. I know that we’re ready to put in some work.”

While Woodaz won’t be enrolling until the summer, Clemson laid out what his role is gonna be and some expectations going forward, once he does arrive on campus.

“I’m gonna come in and they said I’m gonna put on 20 pounds immediately,” he said. “I know that I’m gonna be playing their Nickel-SAM position, very similar to what Isaiah Simmons played. So, I’m gonna be learning the scheme and everything.”

Swinney echoed similar sentiments during his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday.

“I’m not saying he’s Isaiah Simmons, but he’s very similar to that coming out of high school,” Swinney said. “He’s probably — Isaiah wouldn’t want me to say it — but he’s probably a little more coordinated than Isaiah was putting it all together. Isaiah was like a big ol’ giraffe when he rolled in here.

“This kid’s been a quarterback. He is a very versatile guy. He’s physical. It’s hard to find a guy much more physical, but Isaiah was a safety. He played receiver, Isaiah did. And so he’s a good athlete, but they have similar frames. He is a big, long, good-looking young prospect. His frame, I mean he’ll be a 230-pound guy pretty quickly as he gets going into the progression of the program. Love everything about this kid. He’s got all the attributes that we love and he’s the physicality. He’s playing for a state championship this weekend coming from a great program, well-coached down there at Jesuit.”

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