Xavier Thomas ‘Focused and Driven’ Heading Into Final Season at Clemson

When Xavier Thomas came to Clemson as part of the 2018 recruiting class, very few, if any, thought he’d still be around five seasons later.

The former 5-star prospect had all the physical tools, but still had a lot of learning to do.

“The recruiting process, everybody said he’s coming here three years and leaving,” Dabo Swinney said on Wednesday. “And he didn’t know a lot football when he got here as a freshman. He physically was ready, but he had a lot of learning. Then they don’t know what’s coming. Everybody’s got a different journey and challenges and all those things.”

After a stellar freshman season, Thomas took a step back in 2019, his first season as a starter. Then came 2020, where a bout with Covid and then strep throat wouldn’t allow him to properly prepare for the season and he would only appear in a handful of games.

During his senior season, the player known as XT was finally able to put it all together. He was dominant, living in the opponents backfields, even if the box score didn’t always reflect it.

He was so good, in fact, that it was widely assumed he would head off for the NFL. Even Swinney thought he was gone.

“You know, when he came to me I thought he thought for sure leaving,” Swinney said. “But you know, it’s just kind interesting, that’s why you never know.”

The obstacles that Thomas has faced during his time at Clemson has only made him better, according to Swinney, and unhappy with where he was projected to be drafted, he decided to come back for one more season.

“What you see in Xavier Thomas is maturity,” Swinney said. “A very mature young man, a very wise young man, that didn’t want to settle for where his projection was. And he was having some fun.”

Heading into his final season, Thomas is now as determined as he’s ever been, and Swinney is fully expecting that to translate to the field of play.

“This kid is focused and driven,” Swinney said. “Just really proud of who he’s become, the type of leader that he’s become. One of those guys that got a ton of votes for leaders, being one of the guys that they see as a leader and he’s earned that. He’s set up to go have a great year and hopefully the good lord will keep him healthy and he’ll be able to do just that.”

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