The Clemson fan base experienced a return to normalcy on Thursday as the Tigers opened up fall camp. Kind of a return to normalcy anyways.
Head coach Dabo Swinney addressed the media for the first time in months after practice, although it was done via Zoom. The biggest news to come out of day one regarded Xavier Thomas.
After a number of message board rumors lit the internet up on Wednesday night saying Thomas would be opting out, Swinney set the record straight. Thomas was positive for Covid-19 when the team returned in June, and it had some effects on his breathing. Then after recovering he got sick again, this time with strep throat, and the junior pass rusher just isn’t physically ready.
“We are actually holding him out for medical reasons, treating him like an injury,” Swinney said. “(Thomas) probably had more on him than anybody since March. He was having a great spring, super excited about the season and really had a lot of goals about what he wanted to do this summer to really ready himself for a big year.”
“(Thomas) just realized he just wasn’t where you need to be,” Swinney said. “So we have a great plan and a great option to decide every way possible I certainly wish we’d have Thomas. He’s about as good as it gets, but we wouldn’t want him to be out there without the best first, so it’s got a bright bright future.”
The plan is to hold him out and then let him play in the final four games, similar to what the Tigers did with James Skalski. If that is how it plays out, look for a very motivated XT when he gets back on the field.
Other big news coming out of camp was that Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr were both absent. The two roommates are currently going through the protocol and there is no timetable for their return.
That is probably something we are going to see quite a bit of this season. You never know which players could suddenly become unavailable one week to the next.
With Ngata and Ladson both out for the time being, that does bode well for getting some of the other guys behind them reps. This team is going to need Cornell Powell to produce this season. In whatever role is asked of him.
Same goes for freshman EJ Williams. The Tigers do not generally have to rely on freshmen at the receiver position but with Justyn Ross out for the season and unpredictability of who may or may not be available from week to week, the young wideout will need to be ready. And ready to produce at that.
Buckle up, it is going to be a wild ride.