The nation’s No. 1 defensive end has committed to Clemson, joining the nation’s best offensive prospect as pledges to the defending national champions.
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas, the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2018 class, announced on Saturday that he has committed to Clemson.
Thomas, who transferred to IMG from Wilson High School in Florence, S.C., for his final season, chose the home-state Tigers over self-admitted childhood favorite South Carolina.
Thomas had set a decision date for Dec. 20, his birthday, before surprising many with his early announcement.
Alabama was the closest contender to the two Palmetto State schools for Thomas, who touts around 30 offers with ones from Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee among others.
The commitment came before a visit with family members for the annual Orange & White spring game on Saturday. Lawrence and the nation’s No. 3 overall prospect, five-star running Zamir White, will be on campus as well.
It is the third visit in four months for Thomas, who tripped to Clemson last month with 2018 four-star linebacker commit Mike Jones as part of an IMG bus tour group following a visit for the Tigers’ elite junior day in January.
Thomas also made a pair of visits to South Carolina over the past two weeks for a spring practice and its spring game.
He announced on Dec. 14 that he would be returning home to play for either South Carolina.
Thomas becomes the seventh member of Clemson’s 2018 recruiting class, with Lawrence, Jones, Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe four-star wide receiver Derion Kendrick, Richburg (S.C.) Lewisville four-star defensive tackle Josh Belk, Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett four-star defensive end Justin Mascoll, Central (S.C.) Daniel four-star linebacker Jake Venables.
As a junior, Thomas tallied 131 tackles and seven sacks.
This marks the first time that Clemson has held commitments from the top two players in a recruiting class.
Thomas was viewed as a heavy South Carolina lean for much of his recruitment.
With its state-of-the-art new football facility completed and on the heels of a national championship, the power of the Tiger Paw has never been stronger.