Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Monday defensive end Xavier Thomas is ahead of schedule on his ability to return this season and could begin individual drills as early as this week.
The Tigers’ defensive end has been out all year after he contracted the coronavirus before he was set to return to Clemson in June. Thomas also developed strep throat over the summer.
The two illnesses prevented the All-ACC candidate from working out with his team, as he came into camp still trying to get his strength back. Clemson’s doctors thought it was best at the time to hold him out of camp, allowing himself to slowly get back to health and then football shape before returning to regular practice.
“I think this week, he is jumping back into it, and I’m kind of excited about that. I think he is going to get back into the individual (stuff),” Swinney said. “He has kind of been with the strength staff every day at practice. He looks great. I would say he is getting really close, but I think this week is kind of the next step.”
Thomas will start getting all the individual work this week and then the next step will be to get him back into a green jersey and then allow him to work with the team.
“I think he is trending in a good direction,” Swinney said. “Hopefully, like I said, hopefully sooner than later.”
Swinney said Thomas has worked really hard and he has been grinding every day.
“It has been good. I think, too, when all the rules changed and he realized he could play more than four games, I think that lit a little bit more of a fire under him as well,” the Clemson coach said. “So, he has been working hard and hopefully, we will get him back sooner than later.”
Davis could be ready by Virginia game. The open date is coming at a good week for No. 1 Clemson, especially when it comes to the health of All-ACC defensive tackle Tyler Davis.
The sophomore injured his knee early against Wake Forest on Sept. 12 and was held out of last week’s game against The Citadel, too. However, Swinney said Monday afternoon there is a chance the Tigers could being getting back their star defensive tackle when they play Virginia on Oct. 3 at Death Valley.
“I think it will be close. I think he has got a chance for sure. I really do,” Swinney said. “He is doing well and he traveled with us to the hotel this weekend and is staying engaged there. So, again, he is a day-to-day deal. I really don’t have a crystal ball there because a lot of it is on him.”
What is up with Justin Foster? Swinney said defensive Justin Foster is doing better and wants to get on the field, but right now he still has not been cleared to return to practice. The Clemson coach said Foster is still under COVID-19 protocol.
“It is really just day-to-day,” Swinney said. “When they tell us he is good to go, then that is when he will go. I know this, he wants to go. For him, he wants to be out there badly. He is still in the protocol process.”
Baylon Spector update. Swinney said linebacker Baylon Spector was doing well Monday and that he thinks he will be fine.
Spector of course was injured in the first quarter of The Citadel game after delivering a violent blow to a Bulldogs ballcarrier. It appeared Spector suffered a head injury and he did not return to the game.
Orhorhoro update. As reported last week, defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro had his right knee scoped and doctors did find some damage. According to Swinney, the sophomore had to have his meniscus repaired.
Swinney said they think Orhorhoro will be able to return by December. Clemson is scheduled to play Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale on Dec. 5 and then there is the ACC Championship Game, should they earn another berth in the league’s title game.
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