If Clemson freshmen defensive ends Xavier Thomas and KJ Henry had grand designs on being disruptive in 2018 — first in a deep and talented Tigers defensive line room and then in opposing backfields — the pair received a dose of reality on Wednesday.
The Tigers released their preseason depth chart, and both 5-stars members of the Class of 2018 were listed fourth at their respective defensive end positions, according to Matt Connolly of The State. It’s clear coach Dabo Swinney is sending the message they have plenty of work to do to become regular members of the rotation.
Clemson welcomes back all four of its starters on the defensive line from 2017. Two of them, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, are listed as starters at defensive end on the preseason depth chart. Justin Foster and Chris Register are listed as backups, and Xavier Kelly and Logan Rudolph are listed third.
Thomas was the No. 3 overall recruit in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings and Henry was ranked No. 14, so it seems only a matter of time before they move up the depth chart. However, if they don’t rise, it’ll be interested to see if a redshirt is in play for either or both.