DALLAS — It did not take long for the presence of Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas to be felt on the football field. Just ask Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey.
His sack against Dungey back in Week 5 was one of the hardest hits of the season this year for the Tigers.
“I’m really happy (with my first year),” Thomas told The Clemson Insider.
“There was more I would have liked to do but just coming in and playing my role and helping the team as much as I can with what I can do.”
Because of such a veteran defensive line Thomas did see limited action this season. However, with the strength and talent he has, Thomas is capable of being one of the best defensive linemen Clemson has ever had.
With defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence ruled ineligible for the College Football Playoff semifinal Cotton Bowl game against Notre Dame, Thomas may even get more of an opportunity to showcase his talents and prove that he will be a leader on the defensive line in the future.
When asked what the Lawrence situation will do for his playing time, Thomas simply responded, “You will see me, you will see me.”
Although Thomas may be used more in this game, he is still hurting for his teammate Lawrence, who tested positive for a small trace of Ostarine, a type of PED prohibited in sports, but can be found in many commonly used items.
“This is a frustrating situation,” Thomas said. “You hurt for him. But it’s just the next man up mentality that you have to play with.
“We’ve faced adversity all of this year. This is just another stepping stone that we have to overcome.”
Despite the distraction the drug test situation has caused this week, the Tigers have maintained their focus and are confident heading into Saturday’s game against the Irish. One of the main reasons Thomas came to Clemson was to experience success which is exactly what the program has done.
“It will be a great feeling (if we win),” Thomas said. “You come in here and play a great team like Notre Dame and to be able to compete with them and then be able to compete for a national championship in California will be a great opportunity.”