No. 1 2018 Recruit Thomas Commits to Clemson over USC

There was never a doubt that defensive end Xavier Thomas, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the ESPNJr300, was going to stay in his home state of South Carolina for college. The question that kept South Carolina and Clemson coaches and fans on edge was which school it would be.

Thomas answered that question Saturday morning, committing to Clemson over South Carolina.

Thomas’ commitment is another huge win for Dabo Swinney and his staff on the recruiting trail, and arguably the biggest in Swinney’s nine years as Clemson coach.

Thomas is the second overall No. 1-ranked prospect from the Palmetto State in ESPN’s 13 years of rankings, joining Jadeveon Clowney (2011).

Clowney, out of Rock Hill’s South Pointe High, picked the then-ascending Gamecocks over the Tigers and Alabama in what was a huge win for then-coach Steve Spurrier and his staff.

Six years later, Clemson has made a statement by landing Thomas over the Gamecocks, his childhood favorite.

The national champions have now gotten commitments from Thomas and Trevor Lawrence, who is the No. 3-ranked junior and top-ranked quarterback in the ESPNJr300. The Tigers have also landed Justin Mascoll (No. 14), Josh Belk (No. 64), Derion Kendrick (No. 137) and Mike Jones Jr. (No. 162).

The lone verbal not in the ESPNJr300 is outside linebacker Jake Venables, son of Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Clemson is in line for a fourth straight top 10-ranked recruiting class — and second top-5 class in the past four years — despite expecting to sign a smaller class of around 15 in February 2018.

The Tigers are still in the mix for No. 4 Jackson Carman, No. 6 Zamir White, No. 9 Patrick Surtain Jr., No. 12 Teradja Mitchell, No. 19 K.J. Henry and No. 22 Jamaree Salyer, among others.