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No. 1 2018 prospect has top two, will visit three others

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The top-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300, defensive end Xavier Thomas, recently announced on Twitter a top two of Clemson and South Carolina.

Despite having a top two, Thomas admits there are some schools hasn’t completely shut down his recruitment.

“I’ll listen and probably take a few visits to out-of-state schools, but most likely I’ll be going to Clemson or South Carolina,” he said. “I’ll probably take visits to Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State.

“With Florida State, coach [Brad] Lawing himself offered me my very first scholarship back in ninth grade and I definitely have to consider them. With Alabama, coach [Tosh] Lupoi is telling me how how No. 56 (Tim Williams) and No. 22 (Ryan Anderson) are going to the NFL and I could come there and compete for a starting spot my first year. With Ohio State, coach [Larry] Johnson is one of the best defensive line coaches in the country. It’s just a very special place there.”

The Florence, South Carolina, native also recently transferred from Wilson High School to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Despite the move, Thomas still believes he will return to the Palmetto State for college.

“I really knew a long time ago I was going to go to either South Carolina or Clemson, I just never made it public,” Thomas said at the Under Armour Future 50 check-in.

Clemson’s 2018 class got off to a big start by landing a commitment from Trevor Lawrence, the top-ranked quarterback in next years recruiting class. Thomas admits his relationship with the Clemson coaches and with Lawrence are a big reason the Tigers are tied at the top of his list.

“I like the fact they are winning,” Thomas said of Clemson. “Coach [Dabo] Swinney is doing a great job there and coach [Marion] Hobby with their D-ends and D-linemen he’s gotten to the NFL. They are having a lot of recruiting success. I talked to Trevor Lawrence before he committed, he told me was going there and wanted me to come with him.”

South Carolina, meanwhile, has not had the recent success of Clemson. The Gamecocks, however, are hoping Thomas will be the future face of the program, similar to Jadeveon Clowney a few years ago.

“I have a very close relationship with coach [Will] Muschamp and their staff,” Thomas said. “I visited there, and coach Muschamp is telling me I can come and be the face of the defense and help turn the whole program around. From what I’ve seen, they have made a very positive difference from the years before. I believe if they get the right type of players, they can get back to the top.”

Thomas said he will wait until national signing day next year before making his final college decision.