2009 Intro Brandon Thomas

ROEBUCK, S.C. --- Unlike most of his fellow South Carolinians, Brandon Thomas didn't grow up following either of the in-state schools – Clemson or South Carolina.

"When I was younger, I looked up to two people," Thomas said. "I looked up to Julius Peppers, he went to North Carolina. And I looked up to Michael Jordan, and he went to North Carolina. When I found out that they both went to North Carolina – I was in the fifth grade – I was like ‘wow.'"

As one could imagine, Thomas was pretty excited when UNC became the first school to extend the 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman a scholarship offer back in January.

"It was a surprise," said Thomas, who later added offers from Clemson, Maryland, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt.

Back in February, Thomas attended UNC's Junior Day for his first in-depth look into the program.

"It was fun up there," Thomas said. "They treated me well – me and my friends went up there. They fed us good."

During his stay, Thomas received a one-on-one meeting with Sam Pittman, his primary recruiter and UNC's offensive line coach.

"He was telling me about the situation they have on the offensive line, and they are going to offer a couple of linemen in my [class], and that they really want me," Thomas said.

Thomas said Pittman projects him as an offensive tackle. More specifically, Thomas believes he's being recruited for the right side.

Last season, Thomas started at left tackle for Dorman where he earned all-area honors.

"He's quite an athlete," Dorman head football coach Dave Gutshall said. "He really moves well for a big guy. Offensive linemen wise, I've been coaching 30-something years [and] he might be the best that I've ever coached. He has all the tools."

Thomas' athleticism and a void created by graduation has led Gutshall to move Thomas to tight end this coming season. He will also pick up reps at defensive end.

In addition to his February trip to UNC, Thomas has attended junior days at Clemson and South Carolina.

This Saturday, Thomas will return to Chapel Hill for UNC's Spring Game.

"I'm just looking forward to coming up there, getting to know people, and getting to know the coaches," Thomas said.

Thomas is also working on revisiting Clemson for a more thorough, individual look at the Tigers' program.

Though it won't be the sole determining factor, growing up a Tar Heel fan will definitely be in the back of Thomas' mind throughout the recruiting process.

"It does put them in my top [group]," Thomas said.

Going off his gut feeling, Gutshall feels UNC is in just as good of a position for Thomas' services as any other school.

"I know North Carolina is in his short list for sure," Gutshall said. "… I would think North Carolina is one of his leading choices."

Regardless, Thomas is unwilling to publicly name favorites.

"I don't have a leader right now," Thomas said. "I'm just waiting until my senior year and I'm going to decide then … during the season."

Thomas said he desires a school with a good atmosphere – both game and campus – and is surrounded by family oriented people.

Taylor Sowell, Thomas' teammate, verbally committed to UNC back in February.

"He told me he wanted me to come up there," Thomas said.

Brandon Thomas

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