Hard-hitting LB interested in Gamecocks

South Carolina has had some success recruiting the state of Alabama in recent years, with players like Captain Munnerlyn, Chris Smelley and Darian Stewart all hailing from the Yellowhammer State. Now, Coach Ron Cooper and the Gamecocks are hoping to continue that trend, as USC is trying to convince one of the hardest hitting linebacker prospects in the country to play his college ball in Columbia.

Murphy (Mobile, AL) 3-star linebacker Jacoby Thomas has developed the reputation of being a headhunter on the football field, as he racked up 125 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks and 3 interceptions as a junior, on his way to being named First Team All-State last season. College coaches have taken notice of the 6'0", 200 pound Thomas, and he currently has a handful of impressive offers on the table.

"I've got offers from Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Purdue," said Thomas. "They're all the same to me right now. I had a top three, but that's kind of out the window. I'm going to open it back up. I feel like I'm cutting other people out if those don't come through."

Thomas, who is also receiving interest from Arkansas and LSU, is a friend and former teammate of current Gamecock cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, and the two have talked a lot about potentially playing together at South Carolina.

"I haven't been up there to see them yet, but Captain Munnerlyn , I talk to him all the time about South Carolina. He tells me everything that goes on up there. He says the school is great and the coaches are real cool. He said they treat you good up there, and he says the classes are manageable. He's said a lot of good things about them."

The hard-hitting Thomas also believes he'd have the chance to compete for early playing time if he chooses to attend USC.

"They said they have two senior linebackers graduating, and they've got some young players that they feel like I can compete with. That's what I'm going to do if I do go there."

While Thomas has never visited South Carolina or Purdue, his two most distant offers, that could change in the next few months, as he's hoping to check out the Gamecocks and Boilermakers at some point this fall.

"I think I'm going to take some of my visits this fall. I plan on going to Purdue and South Carolina and checking them out. I haven't really had time to set dates yet, though."

As far as a timeframe for his decision, Thomas is in no hurry to make a commitment and said he could see himself waiting until close to signing day to announce his college choice.

"I'm probably going to (make a commitment) around February. I'm going to look at the education, facilities, and the team's record. The ones that I really like, I'm going to keep up with their record to see how they really do."

With offers from around the southeast and beyond, Thomas said that distance from home won't be a factor for him, but his parents would prefer for him to play nearby.

"For me, distance from home isn't a factor. I wouldn't care. It's football. If they've got a spot for me and I can get in and compete for it, it doesn't matter how far I go. As far as my parents, they kind of want me to stay down here so they can see the games."

Thomas, who is rated by Scout.com as the #41 weakside linebacker in the country, closed by sharing what makes him such a special talent on the football field.

"I just feel like I'm a natural linebacker. If you're brave enough to touch the ball, I'm brave enough to hit you. I just love the game. As long as I'm out there on the field, I'm okay. I'm a different person when I cross the white line... I've got to do something with my life, and I see football as my way out."

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