BRADENTON, Fla. — Clemson five-star defensive end commit Xavier Thomas is hard at work trying to recruit some of the nation’s best talent to join the Tigers’ 2018 class.
But Thomas also has his sights set on helping Clemson land a few elite prospects in the class of 2019, including one that happens to be his teammate at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy — five-star defensive end Nolan Smith.
The first stop on The Clemson Insider’s Tour of Champions is at IMG Academy, and on Thursday, Thomas did an exclusive interview for TCI with his close friend Smith.
Smith has been committed to Georgia since January, but Thomas is hoping to flip him.
“It’s every day,” Smith told Thomas, speaking of the latter’s recruiting efforts on him. “He’s out loud with it, as in out loud I mean on Twitter.”
Thomas and Smith were among the prospects that competed at The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore., in July, and Smith said Thomas stayed in his ear during their stay on the West Coast.
Thomas and Smith have talked about being difference-makers together for Clemson and Brent Venables’ defense in the future.
“When we went to The Opening, it’s all day (recruiting), all night, every time I see him,” Smith said. “If I wear something Georgia, it’s a little stank eye, little looks, he might not talk to me.
“But then we get on the field, everything’s all good, and we talk about coach Venables and how we want to change the program.”
Smith received an offer from Clemson in May and made a visit to the school in June, when he spent time with Venables and defensive line coach Bates.
He enjoyed getting to know the coaches and is building a strong relationship with them.
“I talk to coach Venables,” Smith said. “Me and coach Venables are real close together and even coach Bates. Hopefully one day I can be with them, Mike Jones, Xavier Thomas at Clemson.”
Smith said Venables sees him fitting in as a stand-up defensive end in Clemson’s scheme.
“Hopefully I’ll be playing a stand-up end and edge-rusher, same position that I’m playing now,” Smith said. “So hopefully me and coach Venables can talk that out.”
Smith is ranked by the major recruiting services as a consensus top-10 prospect in the 2019 class regardless of position.
Thomas, of course, committed to Clemson over South Carolina before the Tigers’ annual Orange & White spring game in April. He is a consensus top-five overall prospect in the 2018 class.
You can watch Thomas’s full interview with Smith on The Clemson Insider here.
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