Often times, uncommitted recruits give hints as to where they're going to sign. In the days leading up to signing day, it becomes more of a technicality than a revelation when the player finally chooses which hat he's going to wear.
Linebacker Matthew Thomas
of Booker T. Washington (Miami)
is not one of those cases.
If he has a preference, Thomas is playing it close to the vest. At this point five schools — Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and USC — all have a legitimate chance to land the 6-foot-3, 195-pound athlete.
Thomas has kept busy recently, taking visits to USC, Miami and Florida State in the past week, and he's been met with heavy interest.
"High school tackles had a difficult time containing him," said MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming. "He has the frame to weigh 230 in college and the speed to become an elite player."
If Thomas was still a secret to anyone in the high school football world, news spread quickly after the Under Armour All-America Game earlier this month, when Thomas laid a bone-crunching hit on Michigan-bound quarterback Shane Morris.
Former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was at the Under Armour Game, said Thomas has the look of a star.
"He has the potential to be a Raynoch Thompson-type player," Arrington told Noles247
. "You can look him up, he played at Tennessee in college and the Cardinals in the NFL. He was one of the best linebackers I've ever seen."
Though battling injuries in his senior season, Thomas still managed 59 tackles, eight sacks, 19 tackles for loss and picked off a couple passes, returning both of them for scores. He recorded nine solo tackles in the Tornadoes' 4A state title game victory over Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.), and received First Team All-Dade County honors.
Despite the praise and accolades, Thomas, whom Lemming called one of the better all-around athletes in South Florida, hasn't let the success get in the way of his progress as a player.
"I have a lot to work on and have to evolve into a great player on the next level," Thomas told Noles247. "I know there are things I need to get better at."
Where Thomas will ultimately play college football is still up in the air, but he will certainly make an impact wherever he goes. Whichever school lands Thomas will likely get an added bonus, as he and his Washington teammate, offensive lineman Denver Kirkland
, have said they'd like to end up at the same school.Favorite: Miami
When it's this close, you have to go with the hometown school. Add in the fact that former FSU offensive coordinator James Coley, an excellent recruiter who had already established a rapport with Thomas, just accepted the same position at Miami
, and that may be enough to push the Hurricanes to the top of Thomas' list.Co-contender: FSU
The Noles were probably the frontrunner before the news of Coley's departure. Did Coley commit some self-sabotage by selling FSU too well? We'll find out if we see Thomas donning the garnet and gold come signing day.Co-contender: Alabama
Though Thomas looks like a lock to stay in his home state, you can never dismiss Nick Saban and the tradition associated with the Crimson Tide.Sleeper: Georgia
Don't count out the Bulldogs just yet. The fast, athletic Thomas has expressed his fondness of the Georgia defensive scheme. Georgia will also be his last visit, which will give Mark Richt and his staff the chance to make a final impression.Long Shot: USC
Thomas took a visit to Southern Cal, but it doesn't look as if the Trojans are a realistic destination given the close-to-home heavy hitters above them.