DE - 6'5 240 - Miami, Fl (Booker T. Washington H.S.)
In our first installment of the freshman player profiles, we pick arguably the best of the bunch, DE Chad Thomas.
Depending on the recruiting service, Thomas ranked as either a high 4 or 5 star prospect, and was pursued by Alabama and FSU among others.
So what makes Thomas so special?
He combines above average athleticism (4.8 40) with excellent size and strength. On film you can see that he not only gets to the passer with aplomb, but he is very solid at the point of attack against the run because of his excellent hands. Additionally he shows outstanding awareness and finds the ball very quickly.
Chances He Redshirts (1-10) - 0
As part of this series we will evaluate if the given newcomer stands a chance to sit out his first season to retain eligibility. In this instance it is a not even worth discussing.
Thomas will certainly see the field at minimum as a pass rusher. In H.S. he also displayed a knack for blocking kicks, so his value on special teams should also get him a lot of PT early and often.
Summary: Chad Thomas is kind of talent that has escaped South Florida far too often in recent years. But give Coach Golden and staff credit for keeping him home. And while it's very difficult to project what his impact will be his first season in Coral Gables, 4-6 sacks would not be shocking. Down the line he could very well be an All-American and a first round NFL talent, but for now 'Canes fans would settle for CT helping bring the UM defense back to respectability.
More on Thomas HERE.
Stay tuned for more Freshman profiles as we count down to Louisville on Labor Day.