Camp Insider: Swinney likes "freaky" Xavier Thomas


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Xavier Thomas was impressive during the Paw drill
Xavier Thomas was impressive during the Paw drill

CLEMSON – Clemson’s football practice got a little chippy towards the end of Tuesday’s practice, so head coach Dabo Swinney took a page out of the old coaching handbook – he made them run.

Swinney met with the media after Wednesday’s practice, a practice he said was much better than what he saw Tuesday.

"Very physical today, as you'd expect. This is a fast and physical team. They're practicing right now the way I need them to,” Swinney said. “Yesterday, I thought we got a little sloppy toward the end of practice because they decided they wanted to kind of push and shove on each other. So we just ran for the last three periods of practice. They weren't as chippy today, they decided they wanted to practice."

Swinney said he likes what he sees out of freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon, who was impressive in the PAW drill.

"I told Tony (Elliott) he's got a horseshoe up his butt. He's gotten two great ones two years in a row,” Swinney said. “He's gone to a couple of little small towns two years in a row and found what I really think are special talents. Lyn-J has shown in five days that he's got the right stuff. Now he doesn't always go in the right direction and he's got a lot of technique to clean up, but man, he's tough. He's tough. He likes it. And he's fast. Got great version. Had the two best runs of anybody in short yardage today. I've very impressed with Lyn-J. It's a good situation.
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"I told y'all before the year that I thought our backs had a chance to be a pretty good group/ From what I've seen so far in practice, I'm very confident that we're heading in that direction."

Swinney also liked what he saw out of freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas, who picked running back Ryan Mac Lain up off the ground during the drill.

"Xavier is kind of freaky like that. Incredibly strong. That was one of the highlights of the day. But Ryan got back up and got in there."

*Wide receiver Tee Higgins tweaked a hamstring Tuesday, which is why he was in yellow jersey Wednesday. Swinney said the injury wasn’t serious and Higgins would be back as “soon as Danny Poole tells me he can go.”

*Running back Tavien Feaster competed in all drills and didn’t look rusty. He spent the first few days of camp in a yellow jersey as he recovered from his meniscus injury.

*All of the players were issued NormaTec machines this week. The machines use compression technology to assist in leg recovery, and Swinney said the players swear by the machines. Instead of a few that were in high demand, each player now has his own.

"They love those things. We've always had them, but this guy is borrowing it and this guy took it to his apartment and now we're missing it,” Swinney said. “Can we just not get everybody one? Kind of like we give everyone an iPad. What's the difference? It's the little things that are important to the players. We believe in those things, and the main thing is they believe in them. They really feel like it's a huge part of their recovery. We are just always trying to get better. It's just what we do in every area."

*Swinney said freshman defensive backs Kyler McMichael and Mario Goodrich haven’t disappointed.

"Those two guys will help us, no doubt about it,” he said. “Kyler made a really nice play downfield today on a ball. They both have flashed all camp. They've had their ups and downs but they have consistently flashed at some point. Physicality is not going to be a problem with those two guys."

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