Clemson got one of its biggest 2022 recruiting wins on Saturday.
No, there was no big commitment from a blue-chip recruit, but there was one former 5-star guy that announced he would be returning to Clemson for one more season, rather than enter the NFL Draft.
For weeks it has been a forgone conclusion that defensive end Xavier Thomas was gone after the 2021 season. Thomas intimated to that fact on multiple occasions and even referenced the Wake Forest game being his final home game on social media.
However, since then, something changed. Thomas’ strong senior season didn’t result in the NFL Draft grade he was hoping for. Now he will return to Clemson for a fifth season, hoping to improve his stock.
It can not be understated how big of a win this is for the Tigers. First and foremost, Thomas should come into next season extremely motivated. Second, it helps offset the hits Clemson has taken in the 2022 recruiting class.
As it stands, the Tigers have no defensive linemen committed. They will probably add Jahiem Lawson to the class at some point, but let’s be honest, he is a developmental player that will need time.
Thomas coming back takes the sting off of losing Jihaad Campbell, and it also takes some of the pressure off of Cade Denhoff and Zaire Patterson, both 4-star ends that were members of the 2021 class and redshirted last season.
No matter what Thomas’ reasoning is for returning next season, this is a big development for Clemson. It ensures that the Tigers’ entire defensive line, minus reserve DT Darnell Jeffries will return in 2022. And that just might be Dabo Swinney’s biggest win of the 2022 recruiting cycle.
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