Wilson defensive end Xavier Thomas will wear the crown of the nation’s top prospect for 2018 in the opinion of a majority of national recruiting analysts.
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and with outstanding athleticism, according to his coach Thomas Balkcom, Thomas casts an imposing figure along the lines of a Jadeveon Clowney or a Robert Nkemdiche. And like those two, his recruiting will be dissected from every angle.
Right now Thomas lists South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia as his top three. Ohio State and Florida State also are high up on his list. He’s coming off a visit last weekend to USC.
“He enjoyed the visit and enjoyed the atmosphere,” Balkcom said. “He likes what’s going on there and he enjoyed the visit.”
Thomas was at Georgia earlier this month and he plans to visit Clemson for the Louisville game Oct. 1.
As for the onslaught of attention that’s sure to grow, Balkcom said he and the Wilson coaching staff, along with the school administration, are working with Thomas and his mother.
“I’ve talked to his mom about what to expect. I’ve talked to Xavier about what to expect,” Balkcom said. “He’s well aware of what goes on in recruiting and what he’s going to see. I’ve already told him, ‘This is just the tip of the iceberg. You still have another year of school and you will be bombarded.’ The fact that he’s a level-headed, well-grounded young man really helps in the process. He’s not a guy who is into his press clippings. He just wants to work, graduate from school and make his decision.
“They have a plan in place on what they are going to do and the things they want to get done this season and heading into next summer,” Balkcom continued. “He’s a very detailed young man and his mother is very in tune with what’s happening. She’s involved and she’s learning the process. She asks all the right questions. They will be very well-prepared for what’s coming.”
USC and Clemson, of course, have made Thomas a priority and this promises to be an old-fashioned in-state recruiting battle.
“If you’re a in-state school and you have a talent like Xavier Thomas, you’re going to have to do and should be trying to do everything you can to make sure he lands on your campus,” Balkcom said. “I’m certain that those guys will recruit him as hard as they can. I’m certain he’s listening. His ears are open. Those guys are going to do whatever they have to do as far as being around, being visible and making sure he feels welcome when he’s on the campus. He loves the state of South Carolina, he loves his family and he wants to represent them well wherever he goes.”
Because he is a defensive end, and because he is rated No. 1 nationally, and because he is from South Carolina, it’s very simple to compare Thomas with Clowney. But when Balkcom watches him play, he has an entirely different comparison in mind.
“When I look at Xavier Thomas, I see Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs,” Balkcom said. “He has one of the most explosive first steps I have ever seen. I’ve seen what NFL guys look like in high school. I’ve coached NFL guys. I’ve coached college guys that’s gone on to the NFL. Xavier Thomas has one of the quickest first steps that I’ve ever seen. He compares favorably to Derrick Thomas.”