Whenever Will Muschamp lands a commitment, the South Carolina coach drops a #SpursUp on Twitter. Come to SEC Country for the latest news, notes and observations on the prospects who could be the newest Gamecocks.
FLORENCE, S.C. – There was a point not all that long ago when 5-star DE Xavier Thomas thought he would be ready to make a decision at the end of his junior season.
Instead, he’ll wait.
Coaches at every major college program in the country have until Thomas’ senior year to make an impression on the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2018.
After participating in The Opening earlier this summer – days after he told SEC Country about his potential timeline for a decision – Thomas released a top 4: Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina, but the list isn’t set in stone.
Thomas continues to entertain other suitors, including a couple from the SEC. Auburn was in line to score a visit last Saturday until heavy rain across the state of South Carolina changed his plans. If the travel arrangements work out, he’ll get to Athens this weekend for the Georgia game.
Plans to visit South Carolina have been set for the home opener against East Carolina. The day before, a contingent of Gamecocks coaches will be in Florence for Wilson’s game against Dillon High School.
Defensive line coach Lance Thompson serves as the lead recruiter. Will Muschamp is involved, too. Both coaches are in regular contact with Thomas, who believes the Gamecocks are recruiting him harder than anyone else.
“It’s going pretty good. I’ve been talking with coach Muschamp and coach Thompson daily. I’ve been calling them … at least twice every two weeks. It’s been a pretty good relationship,” Thomas said.
Muschamp pitches Thomas on the idea of being the man in Columbia.
“He just tells me I can come in and be a game-changer, be a face of the defense and I’m just the No. 1 priority for 2018,” Thomas said. “He compared me to Dante Fowler, when he coached him at Florida.”
The spiel from Thompson is along those same lines.
“He just tells me I’m a very explosive player who can come in and change the face of the program,” Thomas said.
The 6-foot-2.5, 249-pound prospect shared thoughts on the other three schools listed in his top 4:
- Clemson: “Just ever since ninth grade when I went to their camp, coach (Dabo) Swinney and (defensive ends) coach (Marion) Hobby offered me a scholarship. Ever since then, I’ve been looking into Clemson. They’re just really hot on the recruiting trail right now with recruiting and getting the commits and everything. I was planning on seeing them very soon, but I haven’t settled on a date yet.”
- Ohio State: “I talk to coach (Urban) Meyer and (defensive line) coach (Larry) Johnson, the d-line coach. He tells me, coach Meyer tells me that I’m just a freak athlete and I can come there and do a lot of big things, be a draft pick. Coach Johnson compares me and coach Meyer compares me to Joey Bosa, who was a top pick this draft.”
- Florida State: “Coach (Jimbo) Fisher offered me my first scholarship – (defensive ends/outside linebackers) coach (Brad) Lawing offered me my first scholarship, and that was pretty big with them. I visited their campus. I haven’t been back there since my ninth-grade year, but I’m going to set a date to visit them.”
There’s a saying that’s been floating around the practice fields behind Wilson High. When Thomas, who wears the No. 19, lays a good hit, that player just got 19-ed.
One wide receiver got 19-ed on a jet sweep during the inside period at Tuesday’s practice. The initial diagnosis by the team’s trainer was a concussion.
To help provide the offensive starters a good look during the 7-on-7 period, Thomas moved from defensive end to middle linebacker.
About midway through Tuesday’s period, Thomas dropped into coverage over the middle of the field before he high-pointed a pass with an impressive interception.
It’s a fairly new position for Thomas, who began doing it on a lark during a recent practice. A position switch away from the line won’tbe in the cards, but it’s still fun to see him playing another position on that side of the ball.
All ratings and rankings are based on the 247Sports composite, unless otherwise indicated.
Hale McGranahan covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hale_AJC