Xavier Thomas was not sure he wanted to make the trip to Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Saturday. But it was a good thing Dabo Swinney talked him into it.
After being convinced it would be good for him to join his teammates on the road, Clemson’s star defensive end had an MVP effort, though he played just six snaps in the fifth-ranked Tigers’ 31-3 victory at Boston College.
Thomas was reluctant to make the trip to Boston because his foot was sore earlier in the week, and he was not sure he was going to be able to go. But after making the trip and warming up prior to the game on Saturday, he told Swinney he was ready to play.
“He will come out of this with a big boast,” Swinney said. “Just trusting where he is at with his rehab. He is in a good spot. Doctors feel good about where he is at. It is safe for him to go play.”
Thomas was awarded the replica leather helmet as the MVP of the Clemson-BC game by the Boston College Gridiron Club. The Sumter, S.C., finished his night with two sacks and a forced fumble, and he did it on six snaps.
Saturday was Thomas’ first game back after he suffered a foot injury in fall camp that required surgery.
“To be able to see him have a night like that was awesome,” Swinney said. “Again, hopefully he can ramp it up this week a little bit and continue to bring it along.”
Thomas’ first sack came in the third quarter, when he broke off the right side of the line and chased down BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec from behind. The graduate student also stripped Jurkovec of the football on the play.
“That was new for me because I like the left side,” Thomas said. “But that is the side I hurt my foot on, so I can’t really play left side right now. So, coming off the right side, it was really just natural. I just went out there and was playing.
“I knew I had to get off the ball and make a quick move. I knew he was trying to make a play and go outside the pocket, so I knew I just had to run him down.”
Thomas ran him down again in the fourth quarter, forcing the Eagles’ signal caller to leave the game. Jurkovec finished the night just 19-of-40 for 188 yards. He was sacked three times overall.
Last week, the BC quarterback threw for 304 yards in a win over Louisville.
Thomas helped Clemson (6-0, 4-0 ACC) limit the Eagles to 254 total yards, including just 86 in the second half. Boston College ran for just 34 yards and averaged 1.1 yards per carry.
“It was really just a blessing that God blessed me to go out there and play tonight,” Thomas said.
–photo courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications