Even elite prospects like Clemson commit Xavier Thomas aren’t immune from getting pre-game jitters from time to time, and he admitted he had a little bit of those before his first career game at IMG Academy against Carol City on Friday night.
However, any anxiety he had didn’t show when the game started, as the five-star defensive end put on a dominant performance and lived in the opponent’s backfield all night long.
“It was a very great experience. It was fun,” Thomas told The Clemson Insider in an exclusive interview afterward. “I had a little butterflies in the stomach before I got out here because it was my first game, but after a few minutes, it was good. I made some plays and came out here and had fun.
“It was our first game together and we impressed a lot of people. We still have a long way to go, watch film and make corrections. But it was fun coming out here.”
Thomas was virtually unstoppable coming off of the edge for the Ascenders and continually exerted pressure on the opposing offense.
One of Thomas’s highlights was a monster sack in the third quarter, when he shot off of the defensive line like a cannon and made Carol City’s quarterback look like a rag doll.
“They have a really fast quarterback, and so I was preparing for him to make a move, and he tried to make a move but I got him anyway,” Thomas said of the play.
Across from Thomas on IMG’s defensive line was class of 2019 five-star defensive end Nolan Smith, and like Thomas, Smith was a force throughout the contest.
Smith is currently committed to Georgia, though Thomas hopes to help Clemson flip his commitment.
“It was great, man. That’s my brother,” Thomas said of playing with Smith. “We plan on playing college together at Clemson. I’m going to try my best to get him, and we’re going to have a very great season together.”
Thomas and Smith form a terrific tandem for IMG Academy, and on Friday, they gave a glimpse of what the future could be like at Clemson if Smith ends up in a Tiger uniform as well.
“I feel like we’re a dynamic duo,” Thomas said. “Nobody can stop us.”
Thomas transferred to IMG for his senior season from Wilson High in Florence, S.C.
One game in at his new school, Thomas has no regrets about choosing to wrap up his high school career there.
“I feel like it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “I’m coming out here competing day in and day out in practice, and now I’m transforming it to the game field. I’m developed so much, and I still have a long way to go.”
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