But he currently sits No. 2 on the depth chart at left tackle.
Right now, the No. 1 spot is held by Phillip Price.
"I know I can perform on the first line. There just has to be something inside of me," Thomas said on Saturday, after Clemson wrapped up day two of preseason camp. "I have to get myself right so I can perform and be consistent."
After a disappointing spring, that is what he wants to do this fall.
"Every player wants to start. Getting in the rotation, that's all great, good and well. Every person who wants to star and perform at the next level wants to start," he said. "That's what I'm looking for right now."
There was a time when most assumed that Thomas would do just that. He was supposed to be the heir apparent to All-ACC performer Chris Hairston, who's now with the Buffalo Bills.
Thomas wasn't always counted as one of those believers.
"I knew Phil was the swing tackle the whole time when they moved me to left guard. In reality, I thought he was going to get it at first," he said.
The redshirt sophomore from Dorman High school also admitted that he wasn't ready to take on the responsibilities of a starting left tackle.
"I wasn't mature enough," Thomas said. "I think I am now. I'm coming everyday to win the spot."
Price took every first-team rep at left tackle during spring practice, leaving little doubt as to who the starter was when the summer began.
Head coach Dabo Swinney believes Thomas put in the effort over the summer to change that.
"I heard he studied a lot of film. I don't have confirmation of that. I know he had a great summer in the weight room," Swinney said. "Physically, he looks fantastic. He's 300 pounds. He's strong. He can flat out run. But it's not a combine. You've got to play football. You've got to be accountable, dependable, know what you're doing."
He added that Thomas has looked "OK" during the first two days of preseason camp.
"We won't know how much he's improved until we get a few more days and get some pads in the mix," Swinney said.
All of the pads are donned on Wednesday.
Ready for a turnaround
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