Tino Thomas talks Tennessee trip

Tino Thomas, from Memphis-Melrose, Tenn., traveled to Knoxville this weekend for his official visit to the University of Tennessee. Thomas attended his first game at Neyland Stadium in a November game when the Vols hosted Ole Miss, and was excited to come back for a more in-depth look at the campus.

"It went real well," Tino Thomas said of the visit. "It's beginning to feel like home away from home for me. I love it up here."

Thomas was accompanied on the trip by his father, Tino Thomas, and sister. The elder Thomas has been through the recruiting process before with older son, Graig Cooper, Tennessee's Mr. Football in 2005. Copper went on to have an outstanding career at the University of Miami. Now, it's Tino's time to for the spotlight.

"What did I do?," said Thomas of the official visit. "The better question would be what didn't I do. From talking to the coaches, to touring the facilities, to getting to meet many of the players, we all had a good time. I know I enjoyed myself, and I think the others recruits did as well."

Sophomore linebacker Greg King, who attended Melrose with Thomas, was his player-host for the weekend.

"Greg is someone who I'm very comfortable with," said Thomas. "We got to spend time with Janzen Jackson and many of the other players on the team. Some of the other recruits I was with were Curt, the big man from West Palm Beach, Maggitt, Cam Clear, and Antonio Richardson. Those guys aren't committed to anybody yet, but I think they enjoyed themselves and really liked what they saw."

After camping at UT this past summer, Thomas was extended an offer by Derek Dooley. He was then recruited to Tennessee by wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett. Although primarily a safety/running back at Melrose, the Vols are looking at him for wide receiver, cornerback, and special teams as a return man.

"I think my speed and ball skills will help me see the field," said Thomas. "Right now, they're wanting me to play cornerback. In the meeting with the coaches, I sat down with Coach (Terry) Joseph and talked about how the use the defensive backs. It's a position I'm comfortable with and excited about playing."

Thomas, 5-11, 190, is known for his physical play at Melrose in the defensive backfield. Dooley and company may want to see how he does at strong safety.

"I just want to come in as a freshman and provide a spark to the team no matter where they play me," Thomas said. "My goal is to continue to get stronger and faster. I'm living in the weight room, running track, and keep working on improving my speed."

Thomas picked UT in October over Arkansas, Duke, Memphis, Kentucky, and Mississippi State.

"The reason I picked Tennessee is because the coaches were always straight with me," Thomas said. "Coach Dooley and Coach Baggett said if you come then come ready to work. They tell you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear. The coaching staff is legit, plus I think I'm going to look awesome in that orange."

With only a couple of weekends left until National Signing Day on February 2nd, Thomas must decide soon if he'll consider another visit.

"I may take one more," Thomas said on visits. "I'm not sure though where it will be. This weekend blew me away. I'd score it a 15 from 1-to-10, off the charts."

Thomas wore No. 4 for the Golden Wildcats coached by Hubbard Alexander. The team was defeated by Jackson North Side High School in the first round of the state AAA playoffs to finish 4-7.

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