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Clemson considers QB change; defensive end Xavier Thomas (foot) done for season

Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas (3) reacts after sacking Georgia Tech freshman Jordan Yates (13) during the first quarter in Clemson, S.C., September 18, 2021.

Ncaa Football Georgia Tech At Clemson
Credit: Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson starting defensive end Xavier Thomas will miss the rest of the season after re-injuring the foot that he originally hurt during a scrimmage in August camp.

Thomas played in just three games this season.

The news is another blow to a Clemson team that just incurred its first loss and is struggling mightily on offense behind starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney confirmed Tuesday that Thomas’ injury will require surgery.

Swinney said Thomas can decide whether to return to the Tigers as a sixth-year senior or prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft.

“So if he does decide to come back to Clemson, he’s ready to go for spring practice and all that,” Swinney said. “And if he does go ahead and go pro, then he’s fully ready for the combine and he’s got no limitations and all those things. But man, your heart goes out to him.”

Thomas took to social media late Monday, saying “the bone that was broken & healing and was close to being 100% recracked in practice.” He added he’ll have the surgery next week.

Whether Swinney will operate on his offensive depth chart in the near future appears to be on the table.

Following a demolition at the hands of unranked Notre Dame last Saturday, Clemson lost a grip on the College Football Playoff. The Tigers were No. 4 in the initial CFP rankings last week.

Next up for Clemson is Louisville this Saturday. And Swinney said Tuesday that the issues at quarterback are front and center for the Tigers in their final three games. Uiagalelei has been put on alert.

“If he doesn’t play better, we’ve got to give somebody else a chance,” Swinney said. “That’s just where we are.”

Uiagalelei went 27-of-39 passing for 191 yards and a touchdown with an interception against Notre Dame. He was briefly benched in favor of Cade Klubnik for a second consecutive game.

Thomas missed the first five games of the season, finally returning Oct. 8 against Boston College. Thomas recorded two sacks in six snaps. Thomas played in the next two games but was sidelined in last Saturday’s loss to Notre Dame.

Thomas was a third-team All-ACC selection in 2021, recording 27 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 12 games (10 starts). He also had 5.5 tackles for loss.

Thomas has 12.5 career sacks in 46 games (19 starts) for the Tigers over four seasons.

–Field Level Media