One aspect the coaches can usually count on when signing a student-athlete from Montana is a fantastic work ethic. And that's just what offensive lineman Tyler Thomas of Flathead High has, says The Flathead Beacon's Myers Reece.
"Tyler is a tireless worker, a coach's dream of sorts," Reece said. "He's humble, yet punishing on the field.
"His work ethic has never been questioned: by me, by his coaches or by his peers," Reece continued. "He'll do what the coaches ask of him and more."
THOMAS, A 6-4, 285-POUND HOSS played both offensive and defensive line for the Braves, earning as a senior first team 2A All-State honors on the defensive side of the ball and second team All-State honors on offense. As a junior he was second team on each side of the pigskin.
"Throughout high school, he received essentially the same attention and accolades on both offense and defense," Reece said. "He's also athletic so he can move his feet to pull in the running game and move piles.
"The kid's naturally strong."
Thomas uses his strength to dominate not only in the trenches of the gridiron, but also on the mats of the gyms as he is one of the state's top wrestlers. As a junior he lost to his brother in the state wrestling finals while placing third in the Tri-State Tournament in Idaho.
THE LAST TIME Reece spoke with Thomas, he was unsure of his position at Oregon State but Reece said he would excel on either defense or offense.
"Truthfully, I think he's just as ready to play either, but I envision him putting on more pounds and finding his groove on the offensive side of the ball," Reece said. "He did a fabulous job protecting quarterback Brock Osweiler – who will play at Arizona State University – in the passing game throughout his high school career."
And that's just where he will end up in Corvallis as revealed on Wednesday - and probably at either guard or center protecting perhaps Ryan Katz or Cody Vaz while plowing the running back road. "Explosive" is how OSU offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh described him on Signing Day.
AND WHILE REESE said the Beavers are getting a great football player, he's also a sincere, down to earth individual - a perfect fit for a Mike Riley lead team.
" I don't say this lightly," Reece said. "he's one of the most genuinely nice, down-to-earth high school sports stars I've ever been around."
Reece says that Thomas is mentally ready for the Pac-10 right now, but like nearly all offensive linemen coming out of high school will need time to add strength and weight, and adjust to the speed of Pac-10 football.
"I believe he's definitely ready mentally for Pac-10 ball right out of the gate, but he might need a little time to get ready physically for the rigors of D-I football," Reece said. "He's transitioning from Montana high school football to a Pac-10 schedule, so a physical learning curve would be expected.
"But he's mentally tough and entirely coachable, which is why I think his mind is ready to make the college jump."
Thomas, who wants to major in nuclear engineering or medicine, is slated to redshirt in 2009. His work ethic and coachability should translate into a valuable first year -- which should in turn translate into a successful career in the Orange and Black.
"Oregon State is getting a fine young man and a tough football player," Reece said. "If he gets the chance to make an impact right away, he'll eagerly take advantage of that opportunity...If he has to wait his turn, he'll patiently and studiously do so. I have no doubt about that."NOTABLE NOTES:
When a player does venture the 800 or so miles from the Treasure State to Corvallis he usually turns in a solid college career -- the last two recruits from Montana that suited up for the Beavers both left their mark on the program. Defensive tackles Dwan Edwards (2000-03) out of Columbus High and Pernnell Booth (2004-08) from Billings West were both run stopping specialists in their time in Corvallis who earned all-conference honors. Edwards was a two time all-Pac-10 selection and is currently playing for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL while Booth just completed his collegiate career. Defensive line coach Joe Seumalo calling him the most consistent player on the line in 2008.
A big thanks to Myers Reece of The Flathead Beacon for providing his insight on one of the newest members of Beaver Nation.