Going from under the radar to a hot commodity is one thing, being able to visit all those top schools to get a better feel is another.
Less than four months ago, Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial defensive end/outside linebacker Isaiah Thomas was still hoping to earn that first offer.
Missouri obliged and quickly his offer sheet included a who’s who of schools regionally and nationally. Once Oklahoma offered in person Feb. 13, it appeared like the Sooners were going to be the choice.
They still can be, but it was obvious Thomas wanted to make as many visits as he could to figure it all out. Sounds like he has done that.
Thomas announced Saturday he will make his choice May 28 (Saturday). This comes following an incredibly busy month of visits to OU, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Alabama and Baylor (offers from all programs).
“This has been pretty amazing,” Thomas said. “Not too many athletes get to experience what I’m getting to right now. Taking all these visits helps because I can know which college fits best for me. I’m home there. I want to feel welcome there, don’t want to feel like just another person.”
Norman has been a common destination. Not only was he offered in person back in February, he went to OU twice during spring practices, including a trip for the spring game.
His No. 1 contact with the Sooners has been first-year defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux, and it’s clear Thibodeaux is doing everything right when it comes to the high three-star defensive end.
“It’s a great one (relationship),” Thomas said. “Coach Thibodeaux has been a great mentor to me. It’s like a father-son relationship. Even just on a random day, he’ll check in on me. I have a terrific relationship with the Sooners.”
The debate after this weekend won’t be about the school of his choosing. Instead, all focus will go toward what position will he be playing. Thomas said he’s 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and watching him in person without pads, it’s easy to see all that weight is in the lower body.
So the question remains, do you put on 20-40 pounds on the upper body and transform Thomas into a defensive end? Or do you keep his size where he’s at now and just continue his development as an outside edge rusher?
Thomas, for what’s it’s worth, really doesn’t seem to care where he ends up playing as long as he’s, you know, playing.
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me,” Thomas said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to play. A lot of schools see me as an edge rusher. As long as they put give me the best chance to succeed, that’s all that matters to me.”
It’s not a major shock to hear Thomas say he’s going to decide this weekend. Although recruiting has been a whirlwind and a lot of fun, his focus seems pretty set on helping Memorial heading into his senior season.
“I definitely want to make the decision before the season because it can be a load off my shoulders, and I can concentrate on my senior year.”
Being a senior means being a leader, and it’s a role Thomas is ready for 100 percent going forward.
“I didn’t really think about it last year because I was a junior,” Thomas said. “I realized later I had to step up. If you can step up, you have to do it. That’s the difference this year – our focus.
“Last year we had great leaders, but they didn’t know some times when to turn it on and off. We’re more in tune to practice and what needs to happen now to accomplish our goals.”