|Monday, April 10, 2017, 9:12 AM- -|
Back in the 90s, a good Clemson friend of mine would say, "This is the year we can bury the Gamecocks." And each year something would happen where Clemson couldn't quite put the Gamecocks farther in the rear view mirror.
That has changed.
On Saturday, Clemson may have scored its best blow to the chin of the Gamecock program other than 45-0 in 1989, 63-17 in 2003 and 56-7 last year. The Clemson staff took away a prospect South Carolina's staff called "the future face of their program" in Xavier Thomas.
Clemson went into Florence, a Gamecock town and took away a kid that grew up pulling for the Gamecocks. He was supposed to be the guy the rest of their class rallied around. South Carolina is desperate for pass rushers and here is the nation's top defensive end prospect and a guy that was a fan of your school. But Clemson delivered a devastating left hook to Muschamp and his program Saturday.
About three months ago I was having a conversation with a wise Clemson fan about recruiting. Thomas came up, and he told me I was wrong about him going to South Carolina. He rightfully asked, "Who in their right mind would look at these two programs right now and pick South Carolina over Clemson?" He was right. In fact, Thomas told Tigerillustrated's Paul Strelow on Saturday, "Seeing South Carolina and their team and Clemson and their team there’s really not a comparison what the two programs are doing. I just see myself successful at Clemson.”
Has there ever been a more damaging statement from a prospect? The key prospect?
Thomas saw what we saw. He saw a group of seniors at South Carolina that enters their senior season with a 16-22 record, while Clemson seniors enter their final season at 38-5. He saw 56-7 in person. He was in Williams-Brice last year when 35,000 Clemson fans took over the building. He went to their spring game and saw the lack of talent in person. He has seen Clemson's defensive ends continue to go to the NFL. He saw one team play in one bowl game the last two years, and it was a Birmingham Bowl loss while the other beat Oklahoma, Ohio State and Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
Thomas was right Saturday when he said there is no comparison between the two programs. If Clemson keeps getting commitments from players like Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas, the same can be said for years to come.
The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency
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