Mike Jones, one of the nation’s top linebackers, and Xavier Thomas, the nation’s top defensive end, have agreed to do a diary with 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 this installment, they discuss Xavier’s recent car accident, South Carolina commit Kereon Joyner’s comments about recruiting Xavier to South Carolina and much more.
On Xavier’s recent car accident
Xavier: I had just dropped my mom and my sister off because we were in West Virginia to see my dad. I was driving back to the hotel, which is right down the street from the prison, so I had just dropped them off and a deer ran out. The common reaction is to try to avoid it, so I tried to avoid it, and I swerved and hit a real deep ditch. Half of it hit the ditch, so it flipped over and then I hit the tree. When it was happening, I hit the windshield with my elbow to protect my head. It was about to hit my head. After that, the door wouldn’t open, so it was like it a movie. It was like I was Superman or something because I had to break the door open to get out, so I broke the passenger’s door open to get out. The people outside asked me if I was OK. I was just bloodied up with just a couple scratches and bruises. Other than that, I was fine.
Mike: Whenever I first heard it — we have a little group message and he sent us pictures — I immediately called him to make sure he was alright. Of course I was worried because that’s my boy, but once I found out everything was cool, I was just thankful that the Lord watched over him.
On the Dabo Swinney Football Camp
Xavier: I wish I could have made it, but the accident was unfortunate. But my past experiences with the camp, I’ve been there since my freshman year, which is when I first picked up my offer, after my freshman year over the summer. I talked with coach Venables, and that’s when coach Hobby was there, so I was under coach Hobby’s wings throughout those first two camps that I went to. He always expected me to be the leader. He always pointed me out to be the leader of the other campers. So, my past experiences with the camp have been really good.
Mike: I’ve been going to Clemson camp since seventh grade, so I knew what to expect. But it was just great to be around the coaches and all the players the whole time. I had cousins go compete at the camp, and it was good to watch them play, watch the coaches instruct all the players. It was just a great time. It was great being there.
On Joyner’s comments about recruiting Thomas to South Carolina
Xavier: Kereon has been a really good friend of mine ever since my freshman year when we met at a camp, and ever since then, we’ve always talked about Clemson and USC and other colleges. Of course he chose USC, so of course he’s going to say that he’s going to try to recruit me to go there, but I’m sure he knows that I’m not flipping. It’s just all fun.
Mike: The only reason I tweeted is because I saw somebody tweet at me and was like, “Mike Jones is about to come with some fire.” So I was like OK, I’ve got to think of something that’s going to hurt their flow. But my only response to that is 56-7. That’s all I have to say.
On who they’re recruiting to join Clemson’s special 2018 recruiting class
Xavier: I’m recruiting Jackson Carman and Justyn Ross, and Anthony Cook and Brennan Eagles and also Patrick Surtain. Those are the main ones I’m recruiting right now, and K.J. Henry. My message to them is just the fact that they can come into the class and make history. It’s going to be a very special class, and we plan on winning a championship when we get to Clemson with this class. We win at Clemson, we get to the league, etcetera, education and coach Swinney and the rest of the coaches there — come be a part of something special.
Mike: Right now, I’m focusing my attention to the ’19 class. My young boy Nolan Smith is going to be a Tiger. I am focused. That is my main concern right now, the IMG to Clemson train we got going on. But we always talk to those other guys, Justyn Ross, Jackson Carman and all those guys.
On how they’re spending the summer
Xavier: I’m still in Florence, South Carolina. I’m working out every day with my trainer here in Florence until I get back to IMG in July. I’ll just be working out here until then.
Mike: I’m already back in Florida. I went home to Tennessee for a few weeks and then came to Clemson camp, and now I’m back working out. My family moved down there, so I’m staying at home, working out and running at IMG, and just training. My only real plans are to keep getting better and preparing for the season.
In case you missed it, here is the first installment of our diary with Mike and Xavier.