Neither player is there just yet, but both the Ohio State wide receiver and Virginia Tech cornerback will look to show why they belong in the pros when they get a chance to go against each other Sept. 7.
“He has a great bloodline, comes from a great family of DBs and he’s just an athlete,” Thomas said of Fuller. “I love competition so I can’t wait to go against him on Monday.”
The Virginia Tech defensive back is the fourth member of his family to play for the Hokies and all three of his older brothers have played in the NFL with Kyle Fuller suiting up for the Bears this season and Corey Fuller on the Detroit Lions roster. Considering he was a first-team All-ACC selection last season and the conference’s defensive rookie of the year in 2013, it seems that Kendall Fuller is just the next in line to play professionally. He’s a projected first-round pick in next spring’s draft by some outlets.
As the nephew of NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, Thomas also has the pedigree to warrant high expectations. He projects as an NFL receiver whether he forgoes his senior season or waits until the 2017 draft to go pro and is undoubtedly the Buckeyes top wideout this season, the team’s leading returner in catches, touchdowns and receiving yards.
When the Hokies and Buckeyes open their season Sept. 7, Fuller and Thomas will be looking to show that they deserve the hype. Considering how much press-man coverage Virginia Tech plays and the fact that Thomas is clearly the best receiver Ohio State has, there is a decent chance Fuller will be shadowing him wherever he goes, providing a marquee one-on-one matchup when the Buckeye offense is on the field.
“Mike Thomas – last I checked, he's a pretty good player too,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “So he'll go out there and battle. We aren't worried about Mike Thomas and him playing a great game and being productive although we know the quality of player that, if that's the guy that covers him, we know how good he is too.
“That's one of those big time matchups.”
Thomas saw some of Fuller last season when the Hokies upset the Buckeyes in Columbus and said he ranks near the top of the list of the best corners he has ever had to go against.
To be clear, though, that doesn’t mean Thomas is at all worried about going against the talented corner.
“I love man coverage,” he said, smiling at the thought of it. “I love when someone plays over the top of you and there is no one to help him, it’s just me versus him. It’s kind of like one-on-one basketball. I love competition, I love when teams play man.”
Virginia Tech is a team that plays man frequently and the Hokies appear to have the talent to do it with promising sophomore Brandon Fayscon returning from injuries to line up opposite Fuller. It seems extremely likely that means Thomas will get his fair share of Fuller next Monday.
Does that mean this is a battle of the bloodlines?
“We’ll find out,” Thomas said.