Les Miles and his staff received their seventh verbal pledge for the Class of 2011 in mid-January and another one could be just around the corner.
New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine safety Renaldo Thomas (6-4, 205, 4.6) picked up his first and only offer late last week and it came with some punch.
“I got an offer in the mail from LSU last Friday,” Thomas confirmed. “I was surprised, but then again I kind of thought I’d be getting one because I‘ve been in touch with Coach Frank (Wilson). I still wasn‘t sure though. When I got it I was like wow!”
LSU has a strong connection to St. Augustine as the Tigers signed Tyrann Mathieu in the 2010 class and Wilson played college ball with Purple Knights head coach David Johnson. Add in that LSU is also recruiting a trio of St. Aug offensive linemen in Thomas’ class in Trai Turner, Eric Janeau and Jonah Austin, in addition to wide receiver Marc Edwards, and it becomes obvious that Wilson and LSU are keeping close tabs on the school.
“I spoke with Coach Frank like two weeks ago,” Thomas said. “He really didn’t give me any hints that an offer would be coming, so I guess I just had a feeling. When we spoke it wasn’t even about football. He was just telling me to stay humble and to stay on top of my school work and stuff like that.”
According to Thomas, the LSU offer came close to sealing the deal as far as his recruitment goes. He claimed although it is his only offer at this time, it was the one he had his eyes set on.
“When I got the offer I kind of thought about calling the coaches and committing,” Thomas stated.
LSU’s proximity to Thomas’ home is something that weighs heavy on his mind in addition to a couple of other factors.
“I like LSU a lot and I really like the football program over there, but the main thing is the colors,” Thomas quipped. “They wear purple and gold like my school because my school’s colors are also purple and gold. I also like how LSU is so close to home so I wouldn’t be too far away.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and so if I do commit somewhere it will probably come sometime during the spring,” Thomas continued. “When I commit it’s going to be because I know that’s where I want to be. I just have to talk it over with my family first. I’m not sure if I’m going to LSU’s Junior Day yet (Feb. 20), but if I can make it there, then I’m going to go and who knows what will happen.”
While LSU is currently the only official offer that Thomas has in football, more are on the way for the standout safety prospect and some of his fellow teammates.
“Michigan and SMU have already said that they are sending offers for Renaldo, Trai and Jonah, and Tulsa is sending offers for Jonah and Trai too,” Johnson said. “Marc has some offers on the way too.”
An offer from Miami is also in the books for Thomas but it’s for baseball as of now. Thomas is an imposing figure on the mound as the right-handed hurler has a fastball that clocks in the low 90’s.
Johnson said that he hasn’t heard any talk from Major League Baseball scouts and feels that football will be Thomas’ springboard to the next level because he’s barely scratched the surface on the gridiron.
Thomas had played quarterback up until his junior season when he switched to safety. It was a learning process as he played strong safety as a reserve.
Some may be surprised that Thomas is as hot as he is on the recruiting trail but Johnson has been around long enough to know how recruiting works.
“He’s a kid that you can’t afford to pass on,” Johnson said. “He’s 6-4, 205 pounds and can run. He has so much upside and that is what college coaches like. There is a difference in potential and production when it comes to recruiting kids for college and college coaches are looking for potential.”
“We had a safety last year that was the fastest kid on our team so Renaldo took it as a learning experience,” added Johnson. “He has picked up on things real well, though, and he has all of the tools to be a good one. He has size, speed, athleticism and agility.”
Thomas will get his chance to start for St. Aug in 2010 and he relishes the thought of patrolling the secondary and doing what he likes best.
“LSU is recruiting me as a free safety,” Thomas said. “I like playing defense more because I’d rather hit people than be hit. It still kind of has the same feel as quarterback, though, because the free safety is the one calling all the plays. The biggest difference is I’m not touching the ball on every play.”
Mathieu helped Thomas with his transition into the secondary last season and their relationship has extended far beyond the field. Mathieu is there for Thomas when it comes to football, recruiting, and LSU in particular.
“I know Tyrann just signed with them and we are close,” Thomas added. “He was telling me about the environment up there and how it doesn’t change. He said the players are close knit just like at St. Aug. He said when he went on visits to LSU before he committed, the players were treating him like he was a Tiger already. That’s big right there.”