In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we meet a dynamic playmaker, with blazing speed and electric athleticism who will undoubtedly excite fans for years to come: WR Jeff Thomas.
Miami has been looking for dynamic WRs with speed to stretch the field for a few years. East St. Louis (IL) star Jeff Thomas fits that bill perfectly. One of the fastest players in the 2017 recruiting class, Thomas is a big get for Miami, and brings elite level speed to the Canes’ roster.
Thomas is a consensus top 50 player in this class. But, for a player so highly rated, his recruitment has taken a very quiet — and circuitous — route.
After starring for East St. Louis as a freshman and sophomore, Thomas was kicked off of his HS team as a junior due to reported academic and personal issues. Not only that, but Thomas was removed from the Under Armour All-American game roster as well. The talented receiver used those events as a push to get back on track, which he did. Thomas was able to work his way back onto the East St. Louis team leading the Flyers to a 14-0 record and Illinois 7A State Championship.
On top of that, Thomas earned his way back into the Under Armour All-American game, where he displayed all his talents in catching 3 passes for 148 yards and 2 TDs, and a 45 yard kickoff return. For his efforts in the game, Thomas won MVP honors. A pretty good bounce back story, if you ask me.
After being an early Alabama lean, Illinois was Thomas’ recruiting leader for much of the cycle because the local team stayed connected with him through his junior year issues. After elevating himself back to the National spotlight of recruiting with his dominant showing in the UA All-American game, many schools contacted Thomas, including Miami, who had reportedly been in contact with him behind the scenes for some time.
In the end, Miami was able to secure a commitment from one of the most explosive players in the 2017 recruiting class, and will hope to keep him focused and motivated — both on and off the field — to achieve the levels of greatness that few players can reach.
On the 247sports composite, Thomas is a 4-star prospect, the #6 WR in this class, the #2 player in the State of Illinois, and the #40 player in this class overall. Like I said, no matter how you look at him, Thomas is an elite player, and a huge get for Miami.
Thomas committed to Miami over 16 other offers including Alabama, Illinois, Louisville, and Oregon.
Thomas as a player
That’s the first thing you notice about Jeff Thomas. No matter if he’s playing offense or defense (he’ll stick on offense in college, don’t worry), you can’t fake speed like what he has. Thomas has reportedly run 4.38 in the 40, and won the fastest man race at Nike’s elite recruiting camp The Opening (back in July. Funny note: look at the recruiting blurb in the tweet)
How about that.
To go along with his speed, Thomas has great change of direction moves, something that doesn’t always happen with really fast players. Thomas works well in space, making him a perfect fit for the slot. That’s the position he was playing in the Under Armour All-American game when he broke loose for both of his TDs (video in his Welcome to the U piece).
Thomas runs good routes, and has very good hands. With more than 50 catches and 1101 yards and 13 TDs in 2016 — not counting the destruction he caused in the UA All-American game -- Thomas has the stats to back that up as well.
Not only is Thomas fast with good routes, hands, and change of direction, but he is versatile. Thomas can run reverses, and is a perfect fit for both Kickoff and Punt Returns. Basically, any time you can get Thomas the ball in space, on offense or on special teams, you’ve done something good. Thomas has the speed and skill that he’s a threat to score at any time, from anywhere on the field.
Jeff Thomas is a top 50 player in this class for a reason: he’s really, REALLY fast, and really, REALLY good.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet: Jeff Thomas is going to speed past other guys on the depth chart and make his way onto the field early and often in 2017. From WR to PR to KR, I fully expect to see Jeff Thomas used in a multitude of ways this season.
Chances for a redshirt: 0/10
Miami has been looking for a player of Thomas’ speed and skill for years. Now that they have one, they’re not going to waste his considerable talents by leaving him on the sidelines. This kid is going to play from day 1. Learn the name, guys.
That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.