Two of the country’s top prospects, defensive end Xavier Thomas and linebacker Mike Jones, are headlining members of Clemson’s 2018 class and two of the hardest-working recruiters for what has the chance to be a historically good class.
In the third installment of an exclusive diary with The Clemson Insider, Mike and Xavier give their thoughts on their upcoming season at IMG Academy, South Carolina commit Kereon Joyner’s recent comments about the Clemson-Carolina rivalry, Clemson’s 2017 season and more:
On IMG Academy’s schedule that was recently ranked the toughest in the country by MaxPreps and their preparation for the season
Mike: This is my second year. We had the toughest schedule last year, too. It’s a lot of preparation, in the meeting rooms, on the field. We’re going through a whole lot of situations, working everything, just taking every day a day at a time and focusing on little things, just preparing for this long grind we’re about to have until November. Like I said, this is my second time doing this, so I know what to expect and how to sort of approach preparing for a game and some of these good opponents we’re going to face off with.
Xavier: I’m looking forward to it really because people always say I didn’t really play anybody back home [with Wilson High School (Florence, S.C.)]. So, for me to play a tough schedule, I can show the world what I can do. So I’m ready to live up to the hype they’ve been giving me and ball out.
On the IMG team boot camp they went through recently
Mike: This is my second boot camp, but my main thing I got out of it is servicing my teammates, my brothers. For the majority of the boot camp, we were referring to the main trait of a leader is being a great follower. That really made me focused on putting myself second and putting what’s best for my teammates first, just completing tasks together and being a great follower and listener, also with being a great leader.
Xavier: It helped me a lot because it showed me a lot of leadership qualities. Major (Jeremy) Tannahill was calling me out a lot with being a leader and how to be a vocal leader. Something I really don’t do is talk a lot while I’m doing football things, so it helped me a lot, showing me leadership qualities and doing the experience.
On the IMG media day that was held this week and the team predicting that 2019 Georgia commit Nolan Smith will flip to Clemson in the future
Mike: I already got one of the IMG boys (Xavier), and honestly, I feel like we can get another. I wouldn’t bet against Mike Jones.
Xavier: I thought it was pretty funny because I’m messaging Nolan all the time about Clemson. I don’t pressure him too much because I didn’t like anybody to pressure me when I was in his grade, but I think we can get him from Georgia.
On the recent comments by South Carolina commit Kereon Joyner and Wyatt Campbell about the Clemson-Carolina rivalry
Mike: I decided not to chime in and hurt anybody’s feelings this time. But yeah, I looked at it all as a joke. You know me, I’m a competitive guy. We have three years of showing it and being about it, so let’s see if he’s talking like that come next season.
Xavier: It’s all in the rivalry. It comes with it. But Kereon and me are good friends. Of course it’s going to be a good rivalry. It’s pretty funny to me about Wyatt, but I kind of left it alone. But it’s going to be a good rivalry.
On Clemson’s All In Cookout last weekend and what they have heard about it (Mike and Xavier were unable to attend because of the team boot camp)
Mike: We really kicked into camp mode, but I talked to all the coaches, and coach V (Brent Venables) said everything went great. And by the looks of the pictures, it looked like all the guys had a great time. So hopefully we get a lot more of the cats that we’re looking for come signing day.
Xavier: We just started going into practice really, so I’ve been pretty busy with school and then practice and meetings and stuff like that. So, I really haven’t looked into it that much, but I’m going to ask the guys that were there to see how it was.
On Clemson’s upcoming season and their predictions for it
Mike: I am a Kelly Bryant fan. I might be a little biased, but I think we can win the ACC again and I think we can go to the national championship. I think we can go with ‘Bama again honestly. But everybody is saying all that stuff with Deshaun leaving. Tajh Boyd left, and they said we were going to fall off. Look at us now. I’m a believer in Kelly Bryant.
Xavier: I’m very excited about what they can do this year because there’s so many people saying they’re not going to be anything without Deshaun and the class that just left them. So, I’m really excited to see what they can do this year.
In case you missed it, here are TCI’s first two diaries with Mike and Xavier:
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