The spring football season is in full force for Clemson as it finished up its fifth practice on Wednesday.
For defensive end Xavier Thomas and his teammates, this time of the year is crucial in preparation for the upcoming season. After a stellar freshman year, Thomas did not live up to his own expectations in 2019, and he is working to get back into dominant form in 2020.
“It’s mostly my body that I’ve been working on,” the rising junior said after Wednesday’s practice. “I got into some bad habits last year, so now I’m really just working on my body weight. I’m trying to get down to 255, I’m weighing in at about 257 right now.”
While Thomas is doing his best to get his body where it needs to be, defensive coordinator Brent Venables and defensive line coach Todd Bates have plans of their own for the star end this off-season. Having such great physical tools, Thomas still has a ways to go on the mental side of the game.
“We’ve been working on improving my knowledge and technique and obviously timing,” Thomas said. “Just basically being more physical and focusing on a knowledge aspect of the game. I’ve been watching a lot of film and examining my technique.”
After bursting onto the scene in 2018, Thomas wasn’t able to recapture his freshman year magic as a sophomore. Having such high expectations is something he is used to, as he too holds himself to such a high standard.
“I definitely hold myself to a higher standard than I showed last season,” he said. “I didn’t achieve what I had wanted to last year but you’ve just got to get back to work and keep going. Whether I go out there and do great or bad, you’ve just gotta keep working.
Transitioning into his junior season, a lot of eyes are now on the young defensive end. With losses such as Isaiah Simmons and A.J. Terrell, Thomas is for many, the guy to keep an eye on for a breakout year as he attempts to take control of the defense.
“I’ll always feel like a leader,” he said. “I actually feel like we’ll be a lot better as a defense this year than we were last year. Even though we’re losing guys like Isaiah (Simmons) and A.J. (Terrell) we’re still returning a lot of talented guys. We’ve got a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.”