Anthony Johnson drew the spotlight during O. Perry Walker High’s run to the Class 4A State Semifinals this past season, but junior Dwayne Thomas certainly played a major role in the Chargers success, finishing the year with 90 tackles and seven interceptions.
“I was playing at safety, but college coaches are all recruiting me at cornerback,” said Thomas, who played at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds last season. “It helped out with linebackers because I was a good run stopper. I love to hit. I played linebacker in middle school and since then I have had that mentality. But coach liked me at safety because I could cover the field since I was fast enough to get back over the top.”
College coaches have taken notice, and it won’t be long before spring evaluations – where assistants are certain to flock to his school's hallways in New Orleans.
“A bunch of coaches have told me that they would be by to check me out, so I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone’s all about,” he said. “Right now I have 12 offers, and everyone from LSU to Nebraska to Arizona is in the mix.
“I also feel like Alabama and Miami are the next two that will come. I talked to coach (Burton) Burns and they want to get me up there on a trip. I expect them to offer when I visit and see coach (Nick) Saban in person. Miami is the other school, and coach (Hurlie) Brown said the same stuff. Once I visit and meet the staff, then I’ll have that offer.”
LSU coach Frank Wilson hasn’t let the Tigers slip behind the eight ball, establishing an early relationship with Thomas that has pushed the O. Perry Walker standout into the LSU corner early into his process.
“Living in New Orleans you grow up an LSU fan, but coach Frank is an O.P. guy and knows all the same people I know, and I know he’s being real when he says he is going to take care of me if I end up at LSU,” he said. “I will call and talk to him once a week, and he tells me to just enjoy the process right now. But, he still lets me know that I’m wanted here at home, and if I stayed home then I would be doing it for the whole Boot.
“It’s really a no-pressure situation. He has seen me play a bunch, so he knows what I’m capable of on the field. We just get to know each other better and talk about what my future would be like in Baton Rouge.”
With Anthony Johnson on campus as an early enrollee, Thomas is eager to see his close friend and former teammate in his new colors.
“Just seeing him in that LSU uniform and going up against them is going to be cool for me, because we were just playing together in the playoffs not long ago,” he said. “I also know Tyrann Mathieu well. We used to play against each other in summer camps and stuff like that. It was always a competition to be the best cornerback at the camp. We actually just hung out at Mardi Gras, and he told me that he’s loving being a Tiger and that I should do the same.”
With spring camp under way, Thomas will be on hand for LSU’s first scrimmage of the offseason.
“Coach Frank invited me to come up there this weekend, so I think we are going to come over there on Saturday and watch them practice,” he said.
Outside of trips to LSU, Miami and Alabama, Thomas will take an unofficial visit to Nebraska, where he’s being recruited by defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, a New Iberia, La. native who played at LSU (1992).