As fall camp gets underway, there will be players who generate a lot of buzz. That includes those we haven’t much about during their Nebraska careers to date. However, almost all of the contributors on the roster were recruits that were celebrated when they picked the Huskers.
Let’s take a step back and remember a few players as recruits, why they were important to their recruiting class and why they could generate some buzz this fall camp.
So far, we have looked at:
Today, let’s discuss defensive lineman Deontre Thomas.
Remembering Thomas as a prospect: Back on April 30, 2016, Deontre Thomas, a defensive lineman from Mustang, Oklahoma, joined Nebraska’s 2017 recruiting class. Thomas was one of those prospects where his recruiting ranking didn’t quite match up with the schools that were after him. As a 3-star prospect, he held offers from Texas A&M, Arizona State and Ole Miss (among others) before choosing Nebraska over Michigan. The two things that stood out to me about Thomas as a prospect were his motor and ability to use his hands at his age.
Why he was important to the class: Thomas was the first defensive line commit for then-defensive line coach John Parrella. The commitment of the Oklahoma native was also a great sign for that staff’s ability to dip into Oklahoma and pluck players, which we have seen the current regime continue. It was confusing at the time (and still is) that neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State offered Thomas.
Why he could generate buzz in camp: Thinking back to when Thomas was a recruit, one of the question marks was that he was a bit of a tweener. He wasn’t quite big enough to play the nose but he spent part of his young career doing that and he said this spring it was something he wasn’t ready for.
“I (weighed) 265 playing nose guard,” Thomas said about his true freshman season. “That wasn’t big enough. I think I was handling my own but just being on the line, you can’t be that small.”
He played last season at defensive end at about 280 pounds before suffering a hand injury that prompted a redshirt year. Now, Thomas is hovering around 300 pounds and ready to attack playing his preferred position of defensive end. New defensive line coach Tony Tuioti had praise for the defensive lineman this spring.
“He’s doing a better job striking, using his hands,” Tuioti said. “But then he’s also athletic enough to be able to transition and help us out in the pass rush.”
The defensive line rotation will be tough to crack this season. However, don’t count out Thomas from making some noise now that he is comfortable, healthy and ready to roll.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.