BRADENTON, Fla. — Before Cartersville (Ga.) five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence shocked the world by announcing his commitment to Clemson on the night of Dec. 15, 2016, he gave Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star defensive end Xavier Thomas a phone call.
The message from the nation’s top-ranked offensive prospect in the 2018 class to the nation’s top defensive prospect for 2018 was simple — together they could help Clemson accomplish big things in the future.
“He talked to me when he committed,” Thomas told The Clemson Insider on Thursday during TCI’s first stop on the Tour of Champions at IMG Academy. “He called me right before he committed, and he was telling me the opportunity we could have by going there, the top two players in the country. I thought about it, and obviously I made the move. We know it’s a pretty special opportunity for us both to go there.”
Lawrence’s message resonated with Thomas, who of course committed to Clemson over fellow finalist South Carolina before the Tigers’ annual Orange & White spring game in April.
Thomas has taken a liking to being the recruiter, as opposed to being the recruited.
“It’s actually fun because when I was not committed, I used to get all kind of questions asked by interviewers,” Thomas said. “Now I feel like I’m one of those guys that’s trying to recruit. It’s pretty fun doing that and letting the guys know that they have the opportunity to come to Clemson with this class. It’s pretty fun.”
Despite having a total of just 11 commitments thus far, Clemson’s 2018 class currently ranks in the top 25 nationally by all of the major recruiting services and as high as No. 11 in the country by ESPN.
According to Rivals, the average star rating of Clemson’s class (3.73) is tied with Georgia for the sixth-highest mark in the nation behind only Texas (3.76), Alabama (3.8), Southern Cal (3.82), Miami (3.89) and Ohio State (3.94).
The Tigers have a ton of talent on board already, but Thomas is looking to help them add much more. He is working on and staying in the ear of a number of fellow five-star recruits that the Tigers have made priority targets.
What is Thomas’s sales pitch for Clemson when talking to the nation’s elite?
“Just to come there and be great,” Thomas said. “A lot of people have been sleeping on Clemson until the national championship runs of course, and now we’re up there with the top schools like Bama. So I tell them that they have a great opportunity to come there and get on the field immediately.”
With Lawrence and Thomas set to become Tigers, and both of them doing their part to bolster Clemson’s 2018 class, it has the chance to be historically good.
So, how many national championships does Thomas think the 2018 class can help Clemson win in the future?
Clemson fans will like his answer.
“I say three,” Thomas said.
Thomas (6-3, 263) is ranked as a consensus top-five national prospect regardless of position.
Thomas attended Wilson High in Florence, S.C., before transferring to IMG for his senior season. As a junior last season, he registered 133 tackles and seven sacks.
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