Xavier Thomas Ready To Move On From 2019


Xavier Thomas arrived at Clemson with no shortage of hype.

It's the kind that brings with it a mountain of expectations, and in his first season as a Tiger, Thomas did not disappoint. 

Thomas continuously wowed fans with glimpses of his abilities on his way to being named a freshman All American, and expectations soared. Big things were expected heading into 2019, his first season as a starter. 

However, things didn't quite play out the way that most envisioned, and Thomas' numbers were down across the board. Some pointed to the new 3-3-5 scheme defensive coordinator employed, but Thomas isn't buying that.

"I wouldn't say that," Thomas said. "I'm not really an excuse type of guy. It really was me just needing to put more work into it and get better." 

In fact, Thomas has an entirely different explanation, doing something head coach Dabo Swinney constantly preaches to his team about. He holds himself accountable. 

"I didn't really put this out publicly," Thomas said. "But I kind of got the big head, kind of like an entitled mindset coming off my big freshman year that I had. Like I said, I got big headed a little bit, and I definitely humbled myself."

Thomas is ready to put that in the past. He has now reached a point in his career that knew he had to look inside himself in order to make the changes needed to be the best player he can be.

"It was definitely internal," Thomas said. "Only I know how my mindset was last year and how it's going to be this year."

Now entering his third season in the program, Thomas is one of the veterans of the defensive line. He has entered the spring more mature, with a chip on his shoulder, and determined to put last season behind him. 

"I would say I definitely have that edge back that I had my freshman year," Thomas said. "Throughout your journey here, there are a lot of different things, and you grow maturity wise, and it's definitely been hard I would say." 

One goal Thomas has set for himself this offseason is taking off a little weight. He wants to be closer to what he was as a freshman, and thinks playing a little heavier in 2019 had some negative effects. 

"I'm trying to get back down to the weight that I want," Thomas said. "Right now I am 265-270, and I'm trying to get back down to 255 so I can get back the stuff that I had. Basically my speed and my burst, and so I can move the way I want to move."

With Thomas, there has never been a question of talent. Coming into the spring he knows what the coaching staff is expecting of him, and what he expects of himself.

"Just to improve my knowledge, and my technique," Thomas said. "Just basically being more physical, focusing in on the knowledge standpoint, watching a lot more film, and focusing on my technique."

Thomas knows there will be a lot of eyes on him as the team enters 2020. However, he isn't focused on that. He has learned how to block out all the outside distractions, including the expectations of others.

"I would say that (expectations are) there," Thomas said. "I am just going to try and get better with my guys every day. Just put my head down and go to work."

However, there is one thing that Thomas will tell you that he is expecting. That is the fact that this defense is going to be better in 2020.

"Yeah, definitely," Thomas said. "You always get that experience from last year, which is always good. So there will definitely be a lot of improvements. I feel like we will be a lot better defense than we were last year."