Clemson football: The breakout star of 2021 was once counted out

Clemson defensive lineman Xavier Thomas during a 2019 game.Clemson Georgia Tech 1half
Clemson defensive lineman Xavier Thomas during a 2019 game.Clemson Georgia Tech 1half /

Clemson football has had a breakout star each year for as long as we can remember – a player that seemingly comes out of nowhere and takes the country by storm.

Over the last decade, Clemson football has had guys like Vic Beasley, Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Isaiah Simmons, and Cornell Powell come out of nowhere in their third, fourth, or fifth seasons wearing orange and purple and go on to stardom.

While the Tigers have other stars – Deshaun Watson, Christian Wilkins, Trevor Lawrence, etc, those guys were highly ranked coming into college and lived up to the expectations set before them.

Clemson football breakout star in 2021

This may be cheating given he had a pretty good freshman year as a backup and came into college as a five-star recruit, but Xavier Thomas is going to be the Tigers breakout star in 2021.

First, he went from can’t miss to missing. XT had a lot of expectations coming into his sophomore year and failed to live up to any of them. He had regressed and became an afterthought by the season’s end.

Then of course last year, he battled illnesses that saw him drop a bunch of weight and not be physically ready to play the game of football. The contributions he was able to make were unexpected and much needed but he clearly did not have a full offseason of preparation.

Enter 2021.

From his social media accounts, XT is ready to become the player that he was supposed to be when he signed with Clemson football four years ago. Hell, even typing that out – four years ago – was not what anyone expected when he got to campus.

He has put all his weight back on and apparently feels better than ever. He will help anchor a defensive line that is absolutely loaded with talent and deeper than any defensive line in the country. A healthy Xavier Thomas is a unanimous All-American talent and top 15 pick in the NFL draft pick.

From a leadership position as well as a performance standpoint, XT is the breakout star this team needs in 2021.

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