Xavier Thomas: Hungry for redemption in 2020
|Sunday, March 22, 2020, 3:59 PM-|
CLEMSON- Defensive end Xavier Thomas is hungry for redemption in the 2020 season.
After nine spring practices in the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex, the 265-pound rising junior defensive end has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove after a 2019 season in which he didn’t see the results he wanted to see.
“I always hold myself to a higher standard. I definitely didn’t achieve what I wanted to last year,” Thomas said. “But you have to get back to work, and you have to keep a level head, regardless of if I did good or I did bad”.
Just a few months after playing in the National Championship game against LSU in New Orleans, a new season is emerging for Thomas to re-direct his game with the motivation and edge that he had wearing the orange and purple during his freshman season. Thomas had only 2 tackles during the title game, one solo and one assisted.
Thomas had his season’s best game on September 14th against the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome. Xavier had his first sack of the season under the dome lights, along with two assisted and two solo tackles.
Following the month of September, the defensive end’s season took an unexpected turn as he suffered a concussion during a practice preparing for the upcoming game in Louisville, Kentucky at the Cardinal Stadium.
Thomas didn’t return to the field until the game of November 9th at North Carolina State, where he didn’t make much noise, only having one assisted tackle for his returning appearance.
Coming into this season, the rising junior has a new edge to him. One that is familiar to the public, as we saw Thomas putting up numbers in his rookie season. He is approaching this season with that same monster mentality he first stepped into Death Valley with.
“I definitely got that edge back to me that I had my freshmen year,” Thomas said. “I got a big head, an entitled mindset, last year coming off my freshmen year. Definitely humbling myself, and getting back to work.”
Thomas holds himself to a higher standard than most of the public can see. He understands the elite talent and skill that he has possesses on the defensive side of the ball, but wants his mentality to match that. Therefore, making him a complete player.
Responding to the upcoming season with the new hunger and mentality Thomas is bringing to the field, the whole defense is following suit. With the unbelievable past two seasons that the Clemson defense has had, there is always the question, will the defense be able to produce in the same way they have in the past?
After losing key players in the 2019 season such as Isaiah Simmons, Tanner Muse, and AJ Terrell -- guys that were the talk of the 2020 Draft Combine -- it may bring a little uncertainty in the ability of the defense to the eyes of the public.
Thomas expects that there will be a lot of breakout players this year on the defensive side of the ball.
“I feel like we will be a lot better defense than we were last year. I mean, we have a lot of experience coming back.” Thomas explains. “Of course, you lose guys like, AJ and Isaiah. But, we definitely have a lot of people returning and a lot of experience coming back.”
*TigerNet intern (and current cheerleader) Alex Forte wrote this article.