Marietta (Ga.) Walton High School defensive end Chase Thomas (6-4, 210) has a top four that includes three teams from the South. The fourth, though, catches the eye - a school clear on the other side of the country.
"Stanford, Auburn, Georgia Tech and LSU, those are my final four," says Thomas. "Coach [Willie] Taggart has been recruiting me for Stanford. I'm excited about Stanford. It's one of the best institutes in the nation. I definitely could see myself going there and getting a lot of playing time. They want me as a defensive end."
Thomas says that despite the presence of three Southern schools in his top four, including one being an in-state program, he's very serious about the Cardinal.
"I could leave the South. That is not a problem for me," Thomas maintains. "My family has not been hard on me about staying close to home. They want me to go where I feel the most comfortable."
Having never visited Palo Alto and hoping to gauge his comfort level, Thomas has set up an official visit to Stanford. He'll be in town on September 22, the weekend the Cardinal host Oregon.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there and taking a visit and seeing the school as well as meeting the coaches," the recruit comments.
Thomas says he received the application from Stanford in July and he anticipates getting to work on it in the weeks ahead.
"I got it a couple of weeks ago," Thomas tells us. "I want to start on it soon because I know it's a lot of work."
Academically, the Walton High School senior has a 3.75 GPA and has scored a 1520 on the SAT.
Thomas has already unofficially visited Auburn and Georgia Tech. His fourth finalist, LSU, will get an official visit from him on October 6.
"I'm going to LSU for a visit when they play Florida," the recruit reveals. "That should be a great experience."
Rated three stars by Scout.com and ranked the #38 overall prospect in the state of Georgia this year, Thomas says that he has not set a timetable for his decision. He wants to keep his options open through the first part of the season and wants to be able to take trips.
"I want to soak in the whole experience," Thomas explains. "At the earliest, it would be during the season. But really when the feeling is right."
Thomas and his Walton teammates have their first game on August 31, and they've already begun practicing.
"I've been playing some wide receiver this year, but I know my future is on defense," says the two-way athlete.
Last fall, Thomas had six catches for 129 yards as a tight end, but he made his mark defensively. The 6'4" pass rusher recorded 82 tackles, which included 46 solos, 20 sacks and 17 tackles for loss.
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