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Report: LSU’s “Secret Weapon” in Recruiting Isn’t Joining Vols’ Staff

Last week, it looked as though Jeremy Pruitt was going to add a recruiting ace to his staff at Tennessee. But now that deal has reportedly fallen through, and the “secret weapon” that LSU had in recruiting won’t be coming to the Vols.

Austin Thomas was the general manager for LSU and was one of only two GMs in all of college football. It looked as though Pruitt was about to add him to his staff last week in a similar role, but that deal has reportedly been called off. According to Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports, the fit and timing for Thomas to return to Tennessee “was just not right.”

Thomas was promoted to General Manager after Ed Orgeron was named permanent head coach of LSU in November of 2016. The title of General Manager is rare in college football, and he’s the only GM in the SEC. There’s only one other person with that title in all of college football.

According to Thomas’ bio on LSU’s website, Thomas “works closely with NFL personnel to maximize the opportunity for LSU student-athletes at the next level.” Thomas was named the Personnel Director of the Year in 2015 and a finalist for the award in 2014 for his work with LSU’s recruiting and roster. He had been with LSU since 2013.

He also served as Bowling Green’s director of recruiting and player personnel before joining LSU. Before that, he was on staff with USC and was a defensive and recruiting assistant for a year before moving into the operations side of things in 2011. He was promoted to assistant director of operations/recruiting in 2012 and held that position till 2013. He was a recruiting intern at Tennessee and served as a defensive assistant with the Vols starting in 2008 under Fulmer and remained there during the 2009 season with Lane Kiffin’s staff.

Thomas is a graduate from UT and is from Franklin, TN. He graduated with an undergraduate degree from Lipscomb in 2008 and earned his master’s degree in sport management from Tennessee.

He has strong ties to the mid-state area of Tennessee in recruiting, and he was a large part of the reason why LSU was able to snag players like five-star JaCoby Stevens and four-star Jacob Phillips out of middle Tennessee in the 2017 class. He’s also a big reason why LSU was able to haul in the No. 2, No. 5, and No. 2 overall recruiting classes in the country according to 247Sports in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

It’s unclear if Pruitt will try to bring in someone else to fill the position Thomas was going to have at this time.

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