As Clemson configures its depth chart ahead of the team’s season opener against Georgia Tech on Sept. 5, Wesley Goodwin has been tasked with determining what linebacker will run out behind Barrett Carter at SAM — the strongside linebacker position.
Speaking with reporters following Monday’s practice, Clemson’s defensive coordinator revealed that true freshman Wade Woodaz has been receiving the majority of reps behind Carter. While in Nickel situations, Andrew Mukuba and Malcolm Greene have both been tasked with that role.
“He’s a competitor,” Goodwin said of Woodaz. “He’s got great length and speed. He runs really well. Can change directions for that size. Really smart. Really savvy. Really understands zone coverage, improving his man-technique every day. Can blitz him. A bigger body — can set the edge in the perimeter screen game. You can utilize him in various ways.”
“Kind of a quiet kid, but all about his business,” Goodwin added. “The game hasn’t been too big since he’s been out there, scrimmages and all that. He’s dialed in and focused every rep he gets.”
Woodaz, who has already pushed for a spot in the rotation this fall, is a rangy athlete, who could line up at multiple positions for the Tigers after playing safety in high school, but has seemingly found a home as the second-team SAM backer for the foreseeable future.
After a productive career at Tampa (Florida) Jesuit High, Woodaz, who Brent Venables originally recruited, was brought in by Goodwin to play linebacker at Clemson. Woodaz was a vital part of a Jesuit team that went 38-2 over his final three high schools, finishing his prep career with 216 tackles. He tallied 82 stops and two interceptions as a senior, which included an 18-tackle game against St. Thomas Aquinas.
When asked what freshman he could see playing right away, Goodwin immediately said that Woodaz would get the opportunity to do so. Though he was a summer enrollee, Woodaz’s Clemson debut could conceivably come against Georgia Tech in two weeks.
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