2017 DL and in-state UA legacy Justin Thomas adds Alabama offer

Justin Thomas has thrived as a college football recruit since shifting focus from basketball to football and he had a breakthrough offer on Wednesday as Alabama became the first SEC program to jump in. It's also where his father played his college football.

Emerging college football recruit and Spanish Fort (Ala.) junior lineman Justin Thomas keeps things low key more times than not, but news he received on Wednesday evening created a change of pace.

The Alabama Crimson Tide became his first SEC scholarship offer.

"Really excited to receive an offer from the national champions, especially since it's an in-state university," he said. 

Thomas' father, Atlas Herrion, not only coaches him at the state champion program but he played his college football in Tuscaloosa as well. 

"I'm just happy that he's excited, because he's usually even keel about everything and to see him get excited is a great feeling," he said. "Really proud moment to watch him grow as a young man and as a football player."

Herrion says he's not bringing up the legacy status at this point but Thomas is well aware of it. He is maintaining his composure in the grand scheme of his recruitment despite the big news.

"It's still early in the process," he said. "I'm just going to enjoy the ride and take visits. But it's great to receive an offer from my dad's alma mater. I'm really looking forward to visiting their campus."

It was at Bryant-Denny Stadium in December when Thomas burst onto the scene as a top prospect (video above), helping the Toros slow Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville's bid for back-to-back 6A state championships. On the night, the trench talent had five tackles, 1.5 sacks and multiple tackles for loss. He finished the 2015 campaign with 53 tackles, 9.5 sacks and an interception to his name.

A return to Tuscaloosa is likely this month for a junior day event, but this trip will be a bit different with an offer in-hand.

"My dad told me about it, he was excited," Thomas said. "It was right before I went to basketball practice."

There may have been a brief sense of disbelief, quickly quelled by Nick Saban on the telephone.

"After I called coach (Jeremy) Pruitt, I actually just passed him the phone so he could hear it directly from Coach Saban himself," Herrion said. "They love his length, footwork, and think he has great knee bend. Love his athleticism."

An offensive lineman at UA before a pro career, father-turned-coach says there's no pressure for Thomas to become a member of the Crimson Tide like he was.

"Honestly, I haven't (thought of it), because I want to make sure he makes the right decision for him," Herrion said. "So it's something that we really don't talk about. He's so competitive when it comes to anything I've done, so I'm sure he might have thought about it."

"He just hasn't mentioned it to me," Herrion, shown below embracing Thomas following the state title win, said with a laugh.

Jason Caldwell, Inside the Auburn Tigers

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