Dallas Finalists: Vols, Rebs

Tennessee's pursuit of Dallas Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle from Baton Rouge, is now a two-team race against Ole Miss with Alabama, LSU and Florida State out of the running.

Add nearby Southern Miss to that list of schools that offered but were eliminated as well as the hometown Tigers and it's clear to see this battle will be about more than distance. Thomas was in Knoxville for his official visit Jan. 11 and was in Oxford last weekend.

"It's between Tennessee and Ole Miss," Thomas told Inside Tennessee. "I don't have a time frame for my decision. I was being recruited by Coach (Trooper) Taylor but he's gone now. Coach Adkins is recruiting me now. I like him, but I miss Coach Trooper."

There are a lot of UT fans and players that can easily concur with those sentiments. Fortunately, Thomas had a very good visit to Tennessee and likes what the college has to offer.

"It went real good," Thomas said. "There were a lot of things they showed me that I didn't even know about. I saw a lot of the new facilities they're building. I was impressed with their academic support systems."

Ranked No. 35 at his position by Scout.com, Thomas is coming off his second consecutive Class-4A All-State season. As a junior he played at Istrouma High School where he did not allow a single sack and graded out at an impressive 92 percent. He managed to improve on those sterling figures as a senior but for a different team as he transferred to Scotlandville Magnet High School.

"I gave up zero sacks two years in a row and I graded out at 98 percent on the season," Thomas said of his particularly perfect performance. "I just played offense this year. I play tackle on the left, protecting the quarterback's blind side. I could play anywhere on the line. My pass blocking is my strength because I'm tall and have long arms, quick feet and stuff. I used to play basketball."

Combine efforts support Thomas' contention. At the Scout.com combine in New Orleans last winter he ran a 5.27 time in the 40, clocked a 4.90 in the short shuttle and recorded a voluminous 28.7 vertical leap. During the summer he improved on many of those numbers while camping at Tennessee, Florida State, Ole Miss and LSU. The fact all of those schools offered scholarships just underscores his excellent potential. Thomas said UT has called him every week contact has been allowed since he went to camp there.

Thomas is a teammate at Scotlandville Magnet linebacker and Tennessee commitment Herman Lathers, who is currently listed as a soft verbal by Scout.com.

"He's going to Tennessee," Thomas said of Lathers. "He's committed to them for sure."

Thomas said they have discussed going to the same school, but not in any detail. He did get to meet UT's new offensive staff while on his visit and liked what he heard about their system and his chances of playing in it.

"They're going to run the west coast spread offense," Thomas said. "They told me I might be able to start if I come in there. They think there is a good chance I start next year if I sign."

More athleticism in the offensive line is a must for any spread offense to consistently succeed. And Dallas Thomas is as athletic as O-linemen get.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories