LINCOLN — Deontre Thomas has been in the middle of a recruiting whirlwind since February. The Mustang (Oklahoma) defensive tackle has been deluged with offers from major colleges in the last three months, and had plenty options from which to choose.
But there's just something the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder likes about the Big Ten.
“That's where I need to be,” Thomas said this week. “I'm all about stopping the run.”
Saturday, Thomas became the first commit for new Nebraska defensive line coach John Parrella and the eighth overall commit in NU's 2017 recruiting class. The consensus three-star prospect had narrowed his list to Nebraska and Michigan. Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison recently asked Thomas to wait on his commitment decision so the Wolverines could first look at some other prospects they liked more.
Thomas, who committed Saturday on his birthday, had no interest in waiting through Michigan's attempt to slow-play him. He liked Parrella and the Huskers, especially after visiting NU for the spring game.
“Coach Parrella is really energetic,” Thomas said. “I've got a coach who's going to push me and get me where I need to go.”
Thomas said he also likes the chance to play early at Nebraska. The Huskers have just five scholarship defensive tackles in the program, and will have just four after senior Kevin Maurice graduates. NU plans on taking at least two defensive tackles — perhaps more — in the 2017 cycle.
Mustang coach Jeremy Dombeck — who brought Thomas up to varsity after Thomas' freshman season — said the Huskers are getting the top lineman he's coached.
“He plays with great leverage and better explosion,” Dombeck said. “He’s talented. He has size and speed, but he got to this point by working hard. He busts his butt in the weight room. It’s good to see him have that kind of success.”
Still, Thomas — perhaps because he's a bit undersized — didn't get a ton of offers until teams started seeing his junior tape, where he shows off good technique and playmaking ability. Iowa State was the first team to offer, Thomas. Then came an onslaught of teams, including Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Arkansas, Michigan and Nebraska. Oklahoma, Thomas said, was interested, but never offered.
What did programs see?
“I know how to read a block,” Thomas said. Later, laughing, Thomas said he had a “big butt” suitable for holding ground in the trenches.
Thomas liked Nebraska facilities and fans.
He's a mid-level three-star according to 247 Sports Composite service. He is unrated by ESPN's service.
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