It’s an entire new ball game for freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas but he has been transitioning nicely as the five-star recruit out of Florence, S.C., has done well with the opportunities he has received in the first three games of the season.
Thomas also got his first career sack this past Saturday in the Tigers’ victory over Georgia Southern.
“It felt great,” Thomas said when he was asked about his sack on Monday. “It actually felt like it was in slow motion. It felt like it took me forever to get to him and it took me forever to get him down. But it felt great and then celebrating with my teammates.”
Although the former IMG Academy standout has noticed just how different and more challenging it is going from high school football to playing for one of the most elite programs in college football, he is slowly but surely becoming more comfortable with each game.
“(I am) a lot more comfortable, a lot more comfortable,” Thomas said. “Ever since I got in the Furman game just to get out there and get my feet wet, just to get comfortable going out there in front of all those fans.”
Thomas knew it would not be an easy task coming to Clemson but he did know playing for a program like the Tigers could turn him into the best version of himself.
“I wouldn’t say difficult,” he said. “I knew what I was getting myself into when I was coming here. Learning behind these experienced guys like Clelin (Ferrell) and Austin (Bryant), it’s been great.
“I’ve basically been like a sponge to them, just learning everything like techniques and the plays and stuff. It’s a very tough defense to learn so I’ve basically just been a sponge to them and learning from them.”
Thomas is so thankful for the veteran defensive linemen as they have all invested time into helping him learn and become a better player.
“They keep me grounded and let me know that everybody has to pay their dues and wait their turn,” Thomas said. “They all went through it so I have to go through it also and learn everything and get my techniques down because I’m a very talented player as they say and I have to learn the techniques and how they do things.”
However, if there is one who stands out above the rest as far as going above and beyond to assist Thomas, it has been redshirt junior defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
“I would say Clelin,” Thomas said. “Clelin has been taking me in. We watch film together. There’s been times on the weekends when we come here and get work in. So I’ve learned the most from him.”