The phone call in late January from Joe Thomas to the UW coaching staff, indicating his commitment, was one of the greatest moments of the 2003 recruiting season. The Badgers landed arguably the best player in the state of Wisconsin, after a lengthy recruiting battle with some of the top programs in the nation.
But after a couple of months to think it over, the staff still wasn't quite sure where it would use Thomas. Since the 6-8, 260-pounder from Brookfield is so talented on both sides of the ball, the coaches had to give a lot of thought on where the blue-chip talent would begin his career. Thomas could probably contribute right away at offensive tackle, tight end, or defensive end.
Coach Barry Alvarez indicated to Badger Nation he is nearing a decision on where to use Thomas this season.
"It's still up in the air…but I think we'll probably start him at left tackle," Alvarez said. "That's what I'm thinking."
Alvarez said he was very pleased with what he saw out of Morgan Davis this spring, and the staff feels more comfortable at that position than it did entering spring practice.
Yet the position remains a question mark, and Thomas is one fresh body that could step in and start for four years at the most important position on the offensive line.
Offensive Line Coach Jim Hueber has never been a proponent of starting true freshmen. A redshirt year has proven to be a benefit to everyone that's come through the program and undergone a year of training with John Dettmann.
But will Thomas be an exception, foregoing a redshirt season due to his incredible talent and physical development?
"You know, we'll just see how far along he is," Alvarez said. "I'll be able to make that decision once we get him on the field and see how he picks things up, that type thing."
Where will Joe Thomas Start?
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