While the Bearcats were taking care of business on the hardwood, the University of Cincinnati Football staff was busy working on one of their top targets in the Class of 2007.
Solomon Thomas is a 6'4.5" 220 lb. defensive end prospect from Lakota West High School (West Chester, Ohio). With early interest from several programs, Thomas has picked up a few offers in the past few days and spoke with Bearcat Insider about them and his real interest in his hometown team the UC Bearcats.
While the well spoken Thomas is enjoying the early recruiting process, he's also seen former or current teammates go through it and heard the talk about the up's and downs he will encounter during the process. What programs have offered? Does he have a favorite? When is he looking to make his choice? These are all questions we put in front of Thomas and he happily spoke about the all.
6-4.5 - 220 LBS
POSITION: DEFENSIVE END
HIGH SCHOOL: LAKOTA WEST
BCI: Talk about the early process of recruiting. You are one of the top juniors in Ohio, but it seems you have a heavy interest in Cincinnati, is this true?
ST: At first I was basing the recruiting process all off of letters. I was getting the most mail from Iowa, and then it kind of shifted to Wisconsin and then Notre Dame, but after a while, it came down to the coaches who were coming to see about me, or who were recruiting me off my film or word of mouth. I received my first offer on February 2nd from Illinois and Coach Zook and Coach Dawson. I really like Coach Zook but don't really know about Illinois so I haven't really been in contact with them. Then today I received a call from North Carolina State and talked with their head coach and they offered me, so I'm really excited about that. As for UC, Coach Staten has been with me since my sophomore year and showing me love. UC is the program I know the most about having come to games and camp and keeping in contact with Coach Staten. So if I was to say right now, it would be UC, but I'm originally from California and have been here for only seven years. My dream is to play college ball and it doesn't really matter where. I just want to play college ball...
BCI: You come from a program that has sent several players to college. Do you feel this has helped you early in the recruiting process?
ST: Yes, being able to talk with guys on my team and former players from our school has helped me a lot. Senior leadership at our school has been a big part of talking with the younger guys about the recruiting process and what to expect.
BCI: What do you think will be a deciding factor in picking a school?
ST: A big factor will be my father. He's a very smart man. He's more concerned about my future after football and since I'm only 17, and don't really know a whole lot about different colleges and academic programs, I would say my father will play a very big part in my choice. I will also look to where my heart is and where I feel comfortable, along with who shows me something that no one else has.
BCI: Have you thought about what you might want to study in college?
ST: Business roughly, I know I want to be in business but not sure what field. I'm really attracted to real estate.
BCI: Your here at the UC game. Have you had a chance to visit with Coach Dantonio while you've been here?
ST: Yes, I had the chance to speak with him today and he offered me a full scholarship to Cincinnati during our meeting. I'm very excited about it and he's a very, very nice man. I always judge people off their handshake, how firm is the handshake and he's got a very firm handshake.
BCI: You're a local kid and many local kids seem to look away from the hometown program, but you seem to be looking in, why is this?
ST: Because they've shown me a lot of love, in fact they've shown me the most. I'm from California yes, so I've moved from coast-to-coast and if I had to go to a school far away it wouldn't bother me, but if I stayed at UC it wouldn't bother me either.
BCI: You've had a chance to come to some games this fall. You see a young program, one that is on the rise, does this excite you?
ST: Most defiantly, because I know they are not old, but it shows their trying to do something and the class of the men, the class of the young men is something I'm looking very hard at. These guys have made a commitment and are working to reach a very big goal and I'm excited about that and maybe having a chance to be part of it also.
BCI: Are you looking to make an early commitment or taking the recruiting process all the way up to signing day?
ST: I wanted to go early with UC or Illinois, they were my first offers and I wanted to jump at them. But my father told me there will be more and I need to look into the academics, the community and the people and see what they really have to offer. Last night we talked about how it might be best to wait a month or two after my 2006 season and see after the spring and summer who shows over time they really want me.
BCI: Where do you see yourself playing?
ST: D-Line, anywhere along the d-line. My sophomore year I played defensive tackle at 190 lbs. and yes, I broke my wrist, but we switched to a 4-3 alignment last season and I moved to d-end and I feel in love with the d-end position. So it's D-Line Pride all the way sir.
BCI: The defensive line is young with some local guys here. You also have the Colerain connection here. Being another Cincinnati kid, have you though about making the defensive line an all-Cincinnati line?
ST: Yes, that would be neat and it could bring the team together since we have a lot in common and should be able to bond together. But Colerain is still the enemy, week five in 2006 season.
BCI: What do you think about all the attention you've received so far?
ST: I love it; I'll never get sick and tired of it. One of my teammates can't stand it and I understand him, but it's a blessing. A lot of people don't get the mail and phone calls so I'll never get tired of it...
BCI: Are you looking to participate in some of the combines and camps this year?
ST: Right now I'm unsure about them, but I've really not trained for them. If I'm ready for them physically I'll thing about going, but I'm not sure right now.
BCI: I wish you luck and look forward to talking with you in the future.
ST: Thank you sir.
NOTES: Talking with Solomon Thomas was a real pleasure for me. I've spoken with hundreds of prospects over the years and never get tired of talking with a polite young man who is sincere and truthful about the recruiting process. While it will be a while before we learn if Solomon will become a Bearcat, it seems as if Coach Dantonio and his staff have placed themselves in great position to be in the running for his commitment when the time comes.
While the most recent "Hot News" didn't list Cincinnati, keep in mind the words came from Solomon's high school coach and not the young man himself. In fact, Solomon wasn't even aware of the Hot News about him until we talked.
As you've learned in the interview, Solomon has now been offered by Illinois, North Carolina State and Cincinnati. As the months pass, don't be surprised to see other programs show interest and make offers to this top local Southwest Ohio talent. But from talking with him, the Bearcats will be in the running for his services when the time comes to make his choice.
I would like to thank Solomon for talking with Bearcat Insider about his recruiting, and look forward to following and talking with him in the months to come.