Vols: Victor for Thomas

Victor Thomas of Olive Branch, Miss. — Come on down! You're the next solid prospect to join what is becoming a very solid Tennessee gridiron Class of 2006.

Thomas is the latest high-potential, three-star prospect to verbal to the Vols. Ranked No. 58 among the nation's defensive end prospects, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Thomas has the ability to slide inside at tackle, plus his quick feet and 4.92 speed make him a flexible component up front He is UT's 19th commitment.

There were no shortage of perennial powers pursuing him, as Thomas had offers on the table from Florida, LSU and Louisville along with SEC West schools like Ole MIss, Arkansas and Mississippi State. He confirmed his choice of the Vols over the Bulldogs to Scout.com analyst Ryan Jordan.

"I committed to Tennessee today," he said in an interview with Jordan this afternoon. "I felt that was the best place for me and they have a great academic program. I think I can go in and get immediate playing time."

Tennessee overcame Mississippi State's home-state and last-visit advantage to woe Thomas away from the Dogs. The reason is academic.

"The academic support separated them," Thomas said. "I also felt like they would be more successful."

It was another good get from the talent rich Magnolia State for UT defensive end coach Steve Caldwell, who also landed Mississippi defensive ends Parys Haralson and Xavier Mitchell for the Vols.

"I just called Coach Caldwell," he told Jordan. "He said he was happy and he was glad I was going to be part of the family. He couldn't wait to get me down there and coach me."

As a senior, Victor Thomas, who is fully qualified, recorded 44 tackles and 6.5 sacks to earn first team, all-state honors. He compares well, in terms of speed and size, to many of the nation's the top defensive prospects, even if his numbers don't. That may have done much with the fact opponents could run away from him in high school. Whatever Thomas might lack in lofty prospect status, he makes up for in sheer ambition.

"I see myself being at least second string if not starting this year," he said.

There's no doubting in this Thomas.

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