NU on Thomas' short list

Northwestern recently offered Taijuan Thomas, a two-star wide receiver from Ouachita Parish High School (Monroe, La.).  Is the affinity mutual?  Find out in this PurpleWildcats.com recruiting update.

Speedy wide receiver prospect Taijuan Thomas has been described by his coach, John Carr, as "the definition of a ‘student-athlete,'" so it should come as no surprise that his short list of schools features two Ivy League-caliber institutions.

"My top two are Stanford and Northwestern, for sure," said Thomas, who – according to Carr – is a valedictorian candidate entering his senior year.  "[Academics] play a big part in it.  I really choose my school based on academics. … I want to go somewhere where I go to school, then play sports.  Not play sports, then go to school."

As such, Thomas, who also carries offers from Arkansas State, Dartmouth, Houston, Stanford, Southern Miss, Tulane and Louisiana-Monroe, is eyeing Northwestern closely.  The No. 208 wideout in the class of 2013, according to Scout.com, Thomas is planning a visit to the school's Evanston, Ill., campus in the next month, in addition to a trip out to Stanford on June 17.

Thomas said visiting his top two soon is important because he'd like to make a decision by the end of the summer.

He noted, however, that Tennessee, which has been in contact recently, could emerge as a third contender.  He also added that while being close to a big city such as Chicago is "a plus," the climate is not ideal.

"Northwestern, it's cool," the 5-foot-10, 175-pound recruit said.  "But it's Chicago, I know it's kind of cold up there.  We can get some cold weather in Louisiana, but it's not really Chicago cold."

But although the weather may weigh against NU, its linebackers coach, Randy Bates, holds a certain advantage in recruiting Thomas: He coached Thomas' older brother while at Louisiana Tech.

"[My brother] always talked about him," Thomas said.  "That's a big part of my relationship with coach [Bates] is that I can ask questions and see if he's really a good coach.  Everything my brother said, he said he's pretty good."

Thomas, who recently finished sixth in Louisiana in his division in the 200 meters, added that the fact that Northwestern has other Louisiana products on its team – linebacker Collin Ellis from St. Gabriel, La., and quarterback Zack Oliver from Baton Rouge, La. – makes him feel more comfortable in committing.

"Most people, if you have something in common with them, then they're going to flock together," Thomas said.  "It's kind of good that somebody from around here is there, someone that I can relate to."

In the meantime, though, Thomas highlighted one area he'll be working on.

"I really want to get better at going for jump balls because [in high school] I don't get many jump balls, but in college, most receivers get a lot of jump balls and I think I need to work on that a little bit," the two-star prospect said.  "That's not really my strong point, so that's something I'm going to be working on this summer."


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