Recruit Profile: DT Deontre Thomas
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Recruit Profile: DT Deontre Thomas

April 30, 2016

John Parrella has been scouring the recruiting map since he was hired in February and his hard work has finally paid off with the commitment of Deontre Thomas. Thomas, a native of Mustang, Okla., committed to Nebraska on April 30 to give the Huskers their fifth commitment in the month of April and their eighth commitment of the 2017 class. Last season, Thomas anchored the defensive line for a Mustang football squad that finished the season 8-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Oklahoma Class 6A state playoffs.

Who Else Was Interested?

Thomas may be rated as a 3-star recruit, but his offer list doesn’t fit the typical 3-star mold. Thomas ended his recruitment with 13 FBS offers, including tenders from Texas A&M, Arizona State and Ole Miss. Despite holding several offers, it became clear in recent weeks that it was a two-team race for Thomas’s commitment between Nebraska and Michigan. Thomas visited both schools for their spring game and hosted coaches from both schools in the days leading up to his commitment. Despite a strong push from Greg Mattison and the Wolverines, Thomas chose the Cornhuskers. One interesting thing about Thomas’s recruitment was that he did not receive an offer from either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. While Oklahoma likely won’t offer him since Thomas isn’t a great fit for their scheme, the Oklahoma State Cowboys may be a team to watch out for as the recruiting season progresses.

Eye Test

Thomas measures in at 6-2 and 265 pounds. He is very fit for a defensive tackle prospect as he carries very little bad weight on his frame. Thomas is powerfully built in his lower body at this point in his development, but he still needs to fill out his upper body. Thomas will likely need a redshirt season to hit the weight room and training table, but once he is filled out I expect him to measure in at 6-2 and in the low 290 pound range.

http://www.hudl.com/video/3/3163289/5834e151dfd8b9163c637741

Strengths on Film

1. His motor. When you are an undersized defensive tackle, you better have a good motor to make up for it, and Thomas certainly does. Thomas plays with his hair on fire as he is incredibly active throughout the play and fights through the echo of the whistle to get to the ball carrier. He has that infectious energy on the football field that fellow teammates pick up on and follow, demonstrating that he has natural leadership qualities that you look for in a player.

2. His hand use. When defending the run, Thomas is very violent with his hands and does a good job of striking offensive linemen to knock them off their base. When Thomas has the offensive lineman off balance, he does a solid job of ripping and throwing them out of his path to move on to the ball carrier. Thomas also shows quick hands as a pass rusher, as he has a variety of moves that he uses to get past opposing linemen and to the quarterback.

3. His pad level. Thomas has an extremely low center of gravity and uses it to his advantage on film. Thomas does a tremendous job of firing out low at the snap and keeping his pad level low throughout the play. This allows Thomas to consistently get underneath offensive linemen and hold his gap against the run. Thomas also does a solid job of anchoring down against double teams on film, as he rarely raises his pad level or turns his shoulders against oncoming blockers.

4. His football IQ. Thomas is a very smart defender, and it results in him consistently being in the right place at the right time. Thomas does a solid job of identifying the offensive line’s blocking schemes and figuring out what they are trying to do, as opposing offenses often tried to take Thomas out of the play using false pulls. Thomas did a solid job of identifying the play and redirecting himself to get back into position to make a play on the ball carrier. Thomas also does a solid job of identifying and redirecting against opposing offense’s screen game.

Weaknesses

1. His size/strength. Thomas is undersized for the defensive tackle position at this point, and he will be dealing with bigger offensive linemen his entire playing career. Thomas has done pretty well to this point against high school competition, but being able to hold his ground against 315-plus pound offensive linemen in college is a whole different animal. Thomas will need to add at least 20 pounds to his frame to be able to contribute consistently at the collegiate level. He has room to fill out his frame and reach that number, but he will likely need a redshirt season in order to do so.

2. Settling on his collegiate position.
This one isn’t necessarily a weakness in Thomas’s game, just something he will need to do when he arrives in Lincoln. Thomas is moved all over the line for his Mustang squad, as he lines up at defensive end, nose guard and defensive tackle on film. Thomas looks slated to move into the Maliek Collins 3-technique role, as he doesn’t have the frame to play nose guard for the Cornhuskers. Upon arriving in Nebraska, Thomas will need to put his focus on learning the ins and outs of that position to truly excel.

Conclusion

I admittedly was a bit skeptical when Thomas first received a Nebraska offer, mainly due to his smaller size. Thomas’ quickly eliminated many of my concerns, as he showed to be a smart, tenacious player that fits right in to what John Parrella wants his defensive line to become. Thomas is a classic overachiever that makes up for his less-than-ideal size with solid technique and a fantastic effort. Thomas will need a redshirt season to add weight to his frame, but he should find a rotational role at defensive tackle on run downs early in his career and challenge for a starting job when the Davis twins graduate. Solid first catch, John Parrella.

College Comparison:
Florida defensive tackle Joey Ivie

Pro Comparison:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald

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