After a freshman season that saw him often showing off his potential, defensive end Xavier Thomas entered 2019 as one player many across the nation were expecting to breakout. That sophomore season did not go as planned though.
The Tigers switched over to a three man look up front on the defensive side, due in part to the lack of depth, and the fact that they had all world LB Isaiah Simmons at the SAM, who they could line up all over the field. Add in an injury that caused him to miss substantial time, and those things were part of the reasons that kept XT from having the type of season most were expecting.
After his underwhelming 2019 campaign, some have started to overlook the talented defensive end from Florence, SC. Do so at your own peril because that would be a mistake.
Clemson is expected to go back to a more traditional 4-3 look in 2020, and that alone should help. Thomas just never was able to fully adapt to the different look last season and his talents are far more suited for playing in the 4-3.
The Tigers also brought in a star-studded recruiting class that includes some elite level pass rushers, including the five star DE Myles Murphy. The added competition should keep the third year player on his toes and at the top of the game. .
Thomas admitted that getting the “big head” was part of the problem last season, and it is safe to assume that a lack of competition was a factor in that. There will be no shortage of competition now.
Lastly, this is Thomas’ money year, so to speak. There is no question he has first round talent. He has always been on the three year plan and if his dream of being a first rounder is to come to fruition, 2020 is the time to show the world why he deserves being taken that early.
On the surface it looks like next season it might all come together for the former five star recruit. For those needing a reminder of just how good he can be, here is a refresher.