Being a U.S. Army All-American was an eye-opening experience for Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial defensive end Isaiah Thomas.
The first player ever from Tulsa Memorial to make it to San Antonio, the Oklahoma commit was in a different spot earlier this month. A good spot.
“It was crazy,” Thomas said. “Surreal. I never ever expected to make it this far way football. I mean I always dreamed of it, but I never knew.”
Thomas was one of several SoonerSquad17 commits in San Antonio that week. It was a great showing for the crew even if Thomas said it took him a while to realize he did belong with the best of the best in the country.
“It showed I have a lot to get better at,” Thomas said. “But it also showed me I’m better than what I thought I was. I did really good.
“I had to convince myself. That first day of practice, I got beat and I was thinking how did I end up here? But I realized they have me here for a reason. I did great the second, third days of practice. This is the reason I’m here.”
Thomas said he enjoyed going up against the best of the best, including offensive tackles Chuck Filiaga (Michigan), Walker Little (Stanford) and Foster Sarell (undecided). At his position, Thomas said he enjoyed watching Jaelan Phillips (UCLA).
The experience let him know he belongs on the big stage, and the stage is only about to get bigger as he prepares to sign with the Sooners in five days.
Before he gets to OU, though, Thomas was thrown a curveball. A good one, though. Throughout the recruiting process, Thomas has been seen as three-man front defensive end. It has been revealed through interviews with other recruits the Sooners are geared toward going back to a four-man set.
Defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux wasn’t trying to pull any punches and let Thomas know immediately about the plans.
“It was during an in-home visit, and it was one of the first things he said,” Thomas said. “I was really happy. That’s what fits me. I’m most comfortable in a 4-3 setup.”
Thomas said he was going to do all he could to make being in a 3-4 front work, but he’s ready to work even more now that OU is going to a four-man front.
The goal remains for Thomas to gain weight. He knows it. OU knows it. Fans know it. Thomas has to get bigger. But he must do it correctly, and he must realize it won’t happen overnight.
“Coach Thibodeaux always talks to me about getting as big as I can before I get to OU, to try to get that head start to get bigger,” Thomas said. “But he said don’t get discouraged. If I’m only 245 pounds but can play, he said I’m going to play.”
Thomas was very much unknown at this time last year. It has definitely been a crazy, fun last 12 months, and the realization of him being a Sooner has almost hit him.
“Mike Stoops came to one of my basketball games,” Thomas said. “Then Bob Stoops came for a visit. Coach Thibs came. It hit me. I’m really going to OU next year.”