Mike Jones, one of the nation’s top linebackers, and Xavier Thomas, the nation’s top defensive end, have agreed to do a diary on The Clemson Insider. The IMG Academy standouts and Clemson commitments are headlining members of the Tigers’ 2018 class, and two of the hardest-workest recruiters for what has the chance to be a historical class.
TCI will check back with Mike and Xavier every couple of weeks. In the first installment of this feature, they discuss their friendship with each other, what it’s like to be a part of the 2018 class and much more.
On friendship with one another and how it began
Mike: I knew X. He was the number one player of course. Earlier, we thought X was going to come to IMG for his junior year, so we added him into our little football team group message. So, we were talking there. I didn’t really know much about him. Not gonna lie, thought he was kind of weird. And so he decided he wasn’t going to come that year. So I met him at the Future 50 Camp, and we were cool whenever we met him. I knew he really liked Clemson, I knew he would come to IMG. As soon as he came to IMG, he was automatically one of the boys, so we all hung out with him and we’ve been close friends ever since.
Xavier: I knew most of them from Future 50. I hung out with him at Future 50, so we kind of started our friendship there, and then when we got here, just got closer because we started hanging around each other every single day. It’s just gotten stronger ever since then. He talks about Clemson all the time and he’s been pressing me ever since when I first got here, and once I committed, it got even stronger.
On being teammates at IMG, knowing they’ll be teammates at Clemson in the future
Mike: It’s just crazy to think. I love playing football. I love the excitement coming into the game. I love just being able to be real with my guys. I like yelling, I like the loud part of it. Just knowing that one of the guys I’m going to be playing with now, being able to go through my high school experience with, we’re going to be together at the next level, too… That’s one thing that was important to me. I really like that. Glad he chose to come to Clemson.
Xavier: It will be pretty special. I’ve been looking forward to playing here at IMG, where we’re surrounded by great players, including Mike. To say that we’re going to Clemson together, play together, and we’re already building a relationship playing together here, it will just be exciting when we get to college.
Mike on recruiting Xavier, and Xavier on being recruited by Mike
Mike: It was kind of a roller coaster, I’m not going to lie. Some days he would be loving us, talking about maybe committing, then some days he would tweet out a lot of stuff about South Carolina and I’d be pissed. But it was just fun. Either way, regardless of where he went, he was still going to be my boy. Of course I wanted to play with him, but it was just fun being able to go through the whole thing. And when I found out he was committing, I felt like I won a million bucks. I felt like whenever you get something you’ve been working for. I knew it wasn’t me committing because I had already been committed, but I’ve been trying to get him the whole time, finally got him.
Xavier: With me, it was fun. Mike pressured me a lot about it, and I liked to mess with him and tell him how great USC would be. But I knew I was just messing with Mike and just played a lot about it. But once I committed, I got pretty serious. I told him I would never de-commit, and I’m committed, just Clemson.
On recruiting for Clemson as commits
Mike: With me, I have fun with it all. I like to bash other guys’ schools. I got some friends, like my boy Taron (Vincent). He was really high on Ohio State and Florida State and Clemson, and so I was constantly sending him pictures when we murdered Ohio State in the playoffs. I still tweet at him and all that. But it’s just fun, the whole thing is fun.
Xavier: Ever since I committed, I’ve been having a great time. I’m enjoying it because I was ready to commit and stop playing the recruiting game, and just go ahead and commit and get it out of the way. So now, talking to other recruits, just telling them that we have the opportunity to have the best class in the country and in school history. I just tell them how they can fit in with the program, and I get players who are not just highly ranked, but players I see that can really make an impact on the next level. Those players, I’m giving them a pretty good pitch, I would say, about Clemson.
On what it’s like to be a part of the special 2018 class
Mike: It’s special, man. I just think of all the greats who went through Clemson. We just won the national championship with guys like Deshaun Watson. Seeing we actually have a chance to do stuff like that again, be forever remembered as national champions, the opportunity to do that is such a blessing for me. It’s a blessing to see all the hard work pay off. Since seventh grade, I’ve been wanting to play college football at Clemson, and it’s just great to see all the hard work pay off.
Xavier: It’s special, man. That’s one of the main reasons I committed. We have the opportunity to have one of the best classes in school history and also in the country. Even signing a real small class with like 14, 15 kids, other programs are signing 20 to 25, and we still have the opportunity to have the number one class in the country, which is special.