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Thomas talks return from injury, ability to ‘get through anything’

Max Knipstein, Contributor

Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas (3) lines up at the line of scrimmage vs. South Carolina State in Memorial Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021.

The start of the 2022 season wasn’t how Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas anticipated it would go, but after returning from injury against Boston College last week, the fifth-year senior is ready to return to his old self.
Coming into the fall, Thomas had high hopes for himself until a broken foot suffered in mid-August sidelined him for the first five games and derailed that prospect. 
The Jones fracture — a fracture of the bone on the pinky side of the foot — required surgery and still causes some discomfort for Thomas. But that didn’t prevent him from making a big impact against the Eagles.
Seeing the field for only six snaps last week, Thomas finished with two sacks, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit, earning him ACC defensive lineman of the week honors for Week 6.
For the defensive veteran, the return from injury carried a sense of relief. 
“It was killing me not being able to (play) and just watching every week,” Thomas said. “But I just kept my head down and just kept going to work. I really prepared the last three weeks like I was going to be able to play, even though I wasn’t able to.”
The foot injury still carries some challenges in Thomas’ ability to play at full speed, and he remains cautious with the healing process. 
“There’s definitely some hesitation there,” he said. “It’s just a mental thing of just getting back into the groove and being nervous about stepping on it wrong.” 
While the injury dampened the star defensive lineman’s start, it didn’t suppress the confidence he had in himself since he battled through tough times in 2020.
“I went through depression and got overweight. Just coming back from all that stuff, I know I can get through anything,” Thomas said. “So, it’s not much that can really bring me down at this point. I have faith in God and know that he has me no matter what I go through.”
Although he usually lines up at the left-side defensive end spot, Thomas lined up on the right side against Boston College to prevent having to push off the injured foot as much.
As he looks to “play a lot more this week” against Florida State, Thomas is ready to make his presence felt.
“I know what I’m capable of, which was the reason I came back and what I wanted to accomplish, so I can’t wait to be 100 percent and be out there fully going.”

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