JUCO Commit Thomas Ready To Step In

Bloomington – Indiana has some questions at linebacker, and Jeff Thomas thinks he can be one of the answers. The 6'0", 240-pounder was one of two JUCO linebackers on campus late last week for an official visit, and Thomas added his name to the Hoosiers' commit list...

Bloomington – Indiana has some questions at linebacker, and Jeff Thomas thinks he can be one of the answers.

The 6'0", 240-pound junior college linebacker from Foothill J.C. in Los Altos Hills, Cal., arrived in Bloomington last Thursday night for his official visit and committed to the Hoosiers Saturday morning. He becomes the 23rd member of the Hoosiers' incoming class, and the second junior college player along with cornerback Andre Kates.

Like Kates, Thomas is being brought in with the idea that he can step in and compete for playing time immediately. Indiana loses three of its top four linebackers in Matt Mayberry, Will Patterson and Justin Carrington, so there's clearly a need to be filled.

IU brought Thomas and fellow JUCO linebacker DeAndre Boughton from Fresno (Cal.) City College to campus late last week to pitch them on the idea of helping fill those holes. Thomas has already added his name to the Hoosiers' commit list, and IU is hopeful the 6'1", 215-pound Boughton will do the same following an official visit this past weekend to Nevada.

"They're looking for me to come in and compete," Thomas said Sunday night. "My goal is to come in and start. I want to come in and play. I'm a junior college guy, so I'd like to play and not waste my years on the bench. So I'm hoping to come in and make an immediate impact."

Thomas will start in that endeavor this spring as an early enrollee, which should only enhance his chances to making an immediate contribution. On-lookers will get a chance to see a highly-productive player who totaled 114 tackles, 14 ½ tackles for loss and two interceptions this season while earning NorthCal Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.

The Indiana staff first saw those skills on film a couple of weeks ago, which prompted IU assistant coach Mike Yeager to invite Thomas to Bloomington for a visit. Head Coach Bill Lynch saw Thomas' film shortly after Yeager, and Lynch quickly extended a scholarship offer.

"They said they like my heart and that I'm a run stopper," Thomas said. "I'm a hard-nosed guy and I can run sideline to sideline, shed blocks and get to the ball. I think I'm pretty well rounded."

Indiana concurs, as did a couple of other programs. New Mexico State, UTEP and Arkansas State had all offered Thomas, while BYU was showing interest as well. But Thomas said he was won over during his Bloomington visit and felt like IU was the place to be.

"I think it was the opportunity to play in the Big Ten (that convinced me Indiana was the right fit)," Thomas said. "I was really excited about that. I really enjoyed the facility and the stadium. I really like the coaches, Coach Yeager and Coach Lynch seemed like real standup guys. I really liked them and liked meeting everyone."

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