Clemson assistant Wes Goodwin outlines Xavier Thomas injury recovery timeline

·3 min read
John Bazemore/AP

All-conference defensive end and Clemson football starter Xavier Thomas will miss four to six weeks with a foot injury, defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin said Monday.

Thomas, a fifth-year senior and former five-star recruit, injured his foot in the Tigers’ first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday in Memorial Stadium and left on a golf cart.

“He’s had a great camp and he’s in a great spot conditioning-wise,” Goodwin said of Thomas. “It’s an unfortunate setback, but he’s got the right mindset and we’ll respond and get him back early in the year.”

Thomas’ injury occurred on Aug. 13. A month-long recovery would put him on track to play in Clemson’s third game of the season, a home matchup with Louisiana Tech on Sept. 17, after missing the remainder of preseason camp and the program’s first two games.

If Thomas’ rehab lasts five or six weeks, he could miss up to four or five games before returning for Clemson’s Sept. 24 road game at Wake Forest or Oct. 1 home game against N.C. State. The Wolfpack are widely viewed as the Tigers’ top challenger for a 2022 ACC Atlantic Division title.

After battling injuries and lingering coronavirus symptoms over the past three seasons, Thomas, the No. 3 overall recruit in his high school class, is primed for a big 2022 with the Tigers.

The starting defensive end entered preseason camp at 6-foot-2 and 254 pounds; he also tweeted last month he was down to 15% body fat, the lowest since his 2018 true freshman season.

Thomas burst onto the scene that fall for Clemson with 43 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 15 games. He was a near-unanimous Freshman All-America pick as the Tigers defeated Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

Thomas’ next two seasons were slowed by a concussion in 2019 and lingering COVID-19 symptoms in 2020, which derailed his conditioning. Still, Thomas earned third-team All-ACC honors in 2019 and in 2021 and was projected as a third-round NFL Draft pick.

He opted to return to Clemson for a fifth season and entered 2022 with 112 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, five pass breakups, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery across 1,333 career snaps and 46 career games (19 starts).

With Thomas out at least a month, reserves Justin Mascoll, Greg Williams and Kevin Swint could see more reps at defensive end during preseason camp and Clemson’s first two games behind starters Myles Murphy and KJ Henry.

Clemson 2022 football schedule

Sept. 5 (Mon): at Georgia Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Sept. 10: vs. Furman, 3:30 p.m. (ACC Network)

Sept. 17: vs. Louisiana Tech, 8 p.m. (ACC Network)

Sept. 24: at Wake Forest

Oct. 1: vs. NC State

Oct. 8: at Boston College

Oct. 15: at Florida State

Oct. 22: home vs. Syracuse

Oct. 29: OPEN

Nov. 5: at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 12: vs. Louisville

Nov. 19: vs. Miami

Nov. 26: vs. South Carolina