In-State DT Has Several Interested

As the Duke coaching staff continues to make an impact on several top in-state prospects, one of the names that has risen up the recruiting board is Wadesboro (N.C.) defensive tackle Tra Thomas. Thomas spoke with TDD recently to provide an update on where his recruitment stands.

"The schools I am interested in are Clemson, Louisville, Wake Forest, Duke, Michigan State, Marshall, and East Carolina," said Tra Thomas. "I have offers from Duke, ECU, Michigan State, Marshall, Navy, Elon, Clemson, and Appalachian State."

Projected as a defensive tackle at the next level, Thomas has certainly become a hot commodity on the recruiting front thanks to a strong showing at a few camps throughout the early summer. As he puts it, there are a number of things to like about his game.

"For a defensive lineman I am very strong and explosive. I have a quick first step and always try to just make plays. I can in either a 3-4 or 4-3 set up. When I play on the offensive line I feel like I provide good pass protection and I love to finish out the blocks. One thing I'd like to work on is developing some more moves as a defensive tackle. You can never have enough of them"

But, so far, he's had enough moves to interest programs like Duke, Clemson, East Carolina and Louisville into contacting him to setup unofficial visits. Recently he's stopped by Death Valley and Wallace Wade as he continues to search for the right fit both on the field and off. So what are some important factors for him?

"The most important factors for me are education, playing time, and just good coaches and a strong program. Being able to come in and compete to see the field early is important for me. I am going to work hard and fight for a spot, and I have never been satisfied being a back up."

"With good programs, that should kind of speak for itself. All programs should want to win and should care about the players. They should be real with the players, but not all programs are like that. One thing about my top schools is that they are all good programs in my eyes."

The Blue Devils, in particular, have hosted Thomas on several visits to Durham over the course of the last year, and have made a lasting impression with him thanks to the efforts of recruiting coach Jim Collins as well as Thomas' potential position coach - Marion Hobby.

"The whole coaching staff has been good to me. They said with a guy like me in the program we could compete for an ACC title. I am what they need in their defense at DT. They talk to me a lot and want to be able to plan their defense with me in it. I'm fairly close with most of the coaches there. I've met with Coach Hobby and have spoken or called most of the other coaches. I talk to Coach Hobby, Coach Collins, and Coach Cutcliffe the most though - probably about once a week."

Like most in-state players, Thomas admits that the previous history of Duke may have prevented the Blue Devils from getting a look from such a talented player. Now, however, with so many players buying into the new direction of the Duke football program under Cutcliffe, Thomas seems to be echoing the new sentiment around the Old North State.

"These new guys that coach at Duke are great people and great coaches. They have done great things in the past and have great chemistry together at Duke. All of them have been in the pros at some point. Coach Hobby seems to be the best defensive line coach around based on what he's done. Now that all of them are here at Duke, they are really changing things and making me feel what the changes they are making and the tradition they are building at Duke. When you are looking at schools you want to find coaches who are real and not just in a business. About like Coach Hobby."

Having attending Duke on a handful of occasions, Thomas says he's beenimpressed with the changes being made to Duke's facilities.

"I wasn't really expecting that, but they have one of the nicest locker rooms I've ever seen. It's got a gatorade bar, haha. They are building on some of the that to make some of the best facilities around."

Hoping to major in either Business or Physical Science, Thomas sports a 3.7 grade point average and has already achieved a qualifying score on the standardized exam. At this point there is no definite time table, though Thomas does have a deliberate approach towards the recruiting process.

"My time table for making a decision is pretty laid back. I want to see all and hear. I'm looking for whatever catches my eye first and is most interesting to me."

Thomas measures out at 6-foot-2 and 270 pounds as a rising high school senior. His best self-reported forty time is 4.9 seconds. In the weight room he reports a max of 400 pounds on the bench press, 510 pounds on squats, and 335 pounds on the power clean.

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