For months, a voice inside Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy linebacker Charles Thomas' head telling him to commit to Michigan grew louder and louder. So too did the chidings from his fellow southerners that heard about his affinity for the Maize & Blue.
“Everybody was like it’s too cold,” Thomas recalled. “Don’t go down there. Big Ten? Stay in the SEC.”
Those messages fell on deaf ears. The native Georgian became the first commitment to Michigan’s 2019 class Saturday afternoon. It was a decision he knew was likely two weeks ago, but he couldn’t in good faith commit to a school he had never seen.
So how long did it take for him to settle on his choice?
“When I first got here,” responded Thomas. “I just needed to get a feel for it.”
The reason he became so confident Michigan is the best fit, even before ever setting foot in Ann Arbor, was his overwhelming respect for the men that will be charged molding him.
“The coaching staff and then the defense (and) how it’s ran,” said Thomas regarding the biggest factors in his choice. “Coach Brown is a genius and I would love to play for somebody like him.”
Thomas’ appreciation for the Wolverines started because of his connection with primary recruiter Chris Partridge, but it went to another level when Brown got involved a few months ago. That’s when he really began seeing himself in a winged helmet.
“Because of the way (the defense) is ran, how it (utilizes) blitzes, and how (Brown) just uses linebackers,” said Thomas.
Other schools will surely continue to make the case that their defenses are even better fits, but Thomas insists he won’t be swayed.
“At this point I know where I stand,” he said. “I know where my loyalty is at, and it’s at Michigan and I don’t plan on changing.”
Thomas is so sure of his Michigan future that he has already begun recruiting other players. One of his top targets is his IMG teammate and fellow weekend visitor in Ann Arbor, Noah Cain.
“We’re real close,” said Thomas. “We’re like brothers.”
“He said, ‘you committed? I knew it was coming.’’
“He fell in love with the school too. He loves the school just like me.”