Thomas is engaged like never before

Thomas is engaged like never before

Football

Thomas is engaged like never before

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Xavier Thomas’s 2020 season can be summarized by two words: as Dabo Swinney put it, “consistently inconsistent.”

However, that has not been the case for the rising senior defensive end this spring, according to Clemson’s head coach.

“He’s good. He’s been consistent,” Swinney said this week.

Since coming to Clemson as a former five-star prospect and the nation’s top-ranked defensive end, Thomas has shown flashes of his impact potential and game-wrecking ability but been unable to put it all together on a consistent basis.

After tallying 43 tackles, including 10.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks, during his freshman All-America campaign in 2018, the Florence, S.C., native has totaled 42 tackles, 12 for loss and 5.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Thomas battled injuries as a sophomore and then struggled to get on track last season as he worked his way back from COVID-19 and strep throat in the offseason, which knocked him off his training schedule and forced him to sit out most of fall camp.

Thomas has missed a combined eight games the last two seasons, including five in 2020, when he also missed the ACC Championship Game and Sugar Bowl due to an undisclosed reason.

But during spring practice this year, Thomas has been out on the field every day and been consistent — and that is the biggest thing Swinney wanted to see, and all he and the Tigers are asking from the 6-foot-2, 270-pound edge rusher.

“He’s been available, and that’s been awesome,” Swinney said. “He’s been very, very consistent. He’s been very engaged. He’s feeling good about his conditioning and where he is.”

Thomas still isn’t where he needs to be when Clemson’s 2021 season kicks off, but so far this spring, Swinney is seeing a different player than the one he has seen in previous years and is hopeful Thomas can finish his up-and-down career as a Tiger on a high note.

“He’s still got some work to do between now and August, but I like his mindset,” Swinney said. “He’s showing up every day, he’s got goals, and he’s keeping them in front of his mind, which I like. So, he’s been good.”

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