To play linebacker, you have to have the right kind of mentality. You have to be able read what the offense is doing and be in the right place to stop it. It takes the right combination of speed and brains to be a great linebacker and I think that is exactly what Matthew Thomas has. He stands at a solid 6’3” and 205 pounds. He can also run a 4.59 forty, so there aren’t many who are getting away from him. He’s still uncommitted and it seems to still be pretty wide-open in his choices. Who will land this solid outside linebacker prospect?
Thomas is from Miami, Florida. He plays for the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes and has been leading the way for the defense as they have compiled a 7-1 record. They do have two road games to end their season, but they have their sights set on the playoffs. This stifling defense has only allowed 104 points in their 8 games and they’re looking to continue to shut down opponents in their bid for a state title.
Watching Thomas’ highlights, you notice one thing about him, his speed. He gets to the ball carrier quickly and holds them up until reinforcements come. Something he needs to work on would be to get stronger. There’re a lot of times that he meets the ball carrier and pushes them back, but in college he will run into runners who are strong too. I would like to see him bring everyone down.
He’s great at diagnosing the play too. He always finds himself where the play is going and that’s a good sign. He has the vision that a linebacker needs and the speed to get to the play to end it. Something else that is promising is that he causes a lot of fumbles. In the defense he plays now, they put him at defensive end in pass rush situations and he forces the quarterbacks into a lot of fumbles. He looks like he would fit perfectly into a 3-4 defensive scheme.
He also has really good hands as he does play some receiver. In the highlights I’ve seen him make some great catches in the end zone, even concentrating on getting his feet down. There wasn’t much of him in coverage, but with the hands he’s shown, he should be able to get some interceptions. I still need to see what he can do in coverage though. That could be a drawback to him and something else to work on. You need to be able to rush the passer and not be a liability when in coverage. Being versatile makes you more dangerous on the field.
As I have said earlier, Thomas has a lot of offers and it’s still pretty wide-open for him still. He has a top 5, but teams outside of this mix are still viable options for him. Those five are the Alabama Crimson Tide, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs, Miami Hurricanes and USC Trojans.
Now Alabama would be a perfect fit since they run a 3-4 scheme, but I think regardless of what scheme he’s plugged into, you will see this guy blowing plays up. Florida State wants to keep him in state and Miami sure doesn’t want him to leave the city. There’s still time and he has yet to take his official visits.
Once Thomas gets stronger, he will be quite the force to deal with. His diagnosis skills are exceptional and he always seems to be meeting the ball carrier at the point of attack. He’s ranked as the #2 at his position nationally, the fourth overall prospect in the state of Florida and ranked at 15th overall in the nation. He will be a great sign for whoever he chooses.