Brent Venables, Clemson Working Hard to Get ‘Really Special’ Version of Xavier Thomas Back

Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas just hasn’t been able to catch a break.

After bursting onto the scene as a freshman and making an instant impact in 2018 in a reserve role, Thomas has struggled to take that next step towards becoming the complete player most think he can be. Some of that has been self-inflicted, but most of it has been due to things out of his control.

Now Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is going back to that special freshman season in an effort to help get Thomas back on the track he appeared to be on after the 2018 season.

“We’re looking at some teach video, some teach tapes from an installation standpoint here,” Venables said after practice on Wednesday. “And just pulling up some stuff, how he played and where he was weight wise and all that as a freshman. So, we’re working hard at trying to get him back there because that version is really good, really special.”

However, that hasn’t been as easy this spring as most were hoping for. Thomas has still missed time at different points this spring, but when he has been on the practice field, Venables has liked what he’s seen from the talented pass-rusher.

“He’s just been snakebit a little bit from that standpoint,” Venables said. “But when he’s been out there, I’ve been pleased with what he’s been able to bring to the table.”

Safety protocols as well as a banged up shoulder have caused Thomas to miss time this spring. Although, as the Tigers get ready to wrap up spring ball this weekend, Venables thinks things are heading in the right direction.

“He had some protocol things going on early and had a little shoulder banged up as well,” Venables said. “So, he hasn’t had as many reps as some of the other guys. But when he’s been in there, I’ve been really pleased with things that he’s done.”

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