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Thurmond comes from a football hotbed in the middle of Georgia, and from a program -- Buford High School -- that plays quality competition. The Wolves sent 12 players form last year's team on to college on football scholarships, with one pair to Georgia Tech, another duo to Army and a fifth to North Carolina State. That speaks not only to the talent level in the area, but also to the development which the coaches bring to the program. Buford went all the way to the Class AAAA title game a year ago, and Thurmond will be a linchpin in the Wolves' effort to go one step further in 2016.
It might seem like a broken record, but Thurmond, like most every West Virginia football offensive line recruit under Ron Crook, has a good reach and a long frame. He will easily carry 300 pounds in college, and when he gets his hands into an opponent, he is often able to control them and drive them out of the play.
"Thurmond is a strong drive blocker that can push defensive linemen backwards while his feet keep moving," Scout.com analyst Chad Simmons said. "He can play a little high, and pop up a little too quickly, so he needs to improve his pad level. He has good reach, but he needs to shoot his hands better, and not allow defensive linemen into his body. He has flashed that nasty streak where he likes to put defenders on their backs."
Thurmond shows the ability to play in the air at tackle, and protects the edge well when uncovered. Whether or not that means he might have the ability to play the left side remains to be seen, but there's no doubt he has the ability to be the strong run blocking force needed on the right side.
There are some technique issues to improve with Thurmond, who does appear to stand up at the snap at times, as Simmons noted. However, that's offset by the amount of space he commands when doing so -- he just needs to keep lower and initiate contact a bit better before uncoiling. That can leave him vulnerable to a power rusher who could get inside his reach, but it's something that is correctable.
"He still needs to improve his base in pass protection and his balance when engaged," Simmons noted.
Thurmond didn't have a ton of offers yet, and was being bypassed on the Division I level so far, at least in terms of offers. West Virginia got in early on him, however, and could have snatched a star in the making. He can also improve on his steps -- he occasionally takes an extra one while getting into blocking position or out of his stance, but he does make up for it when he gets to his opponent. As he develops more consistency and a better stance, he will be difficult to get past along the offensive front.
WVU got in early on Thurmond and was rewarded with a commitment. Now we'll have to wait at least three years to see if that pays off. Looking past the offer sheet, though, Thurmond's measurables and style of play are immediate attractors. His video is filled with examples of dominance in the run blocking game, and he shows good mobility when getting out to the second level. He finds linebackers in space and is able to get to them and execute blocks, and isn't left grasping or reaching as less mobile linemen are sometimes forced to do. He sets up well and commits to the hit, and doesn't shy away or turn his head when contact comes.
"Thurmond is a big offensive lineman who could line up at tackle or guard on the next level. He plays at a powerful program in the state of Georgia that produces top talent year after year," Simmons summarized. "He will come up well coached, ready to compete, and as prepared as anyone."
In all, this is a typical West Virginia line recruit. It's not going to vault WVU up the recruiting rankings, but it's another building block that could continue the progression Mountaineer fans have seen in their offensive line over the past couple of seasons.