Vols are Finalists for Elite In-State Lineman

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    (Photo via Brad Vest/Commercial Appeal)

    The Vols got a visit from one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee a week ago. Now, he’s included UT among his list of finalists in his recruitment.

    Omari Thomas is a four-star offensive/defensive lineman in the 2020 class who plays for Briarcrest Christian in Memphis. Back on Christmas, Thomas released a list of his top 12 schools. On Monday of this week, following his visit to UT’s campus last weekend, he trimmed that list down to six schools and labeled them as his finalists. Tennessee made the cut along with Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman is the No. 93 overall player, No. 8 defensive tackle, and No. 4 player in the state of Tennessee. Despite being listed as an offensive lineman on some recruiting services, it’s believed he’ll play defensive tackle in college.

    Thomas spent the weekend of June 9th visiting Knoxville, and he also received a visit from Tennessee defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley back in mid-April. His visit to campus a week ago was his first trip to UT’s campus since October of last year. He also unofficially visited Tennessee in June of 2018.

    Along with his visit to Tennessee, Thomas has also visited Arkansas, Auburn, and Alabama in 2019 so far.

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    Thomas is a fast player, and he’s athletic for his size. He uses his hands well to create leverage and separate, and he’s a solid tackler. He will, however, need to work on his pad level. He is consistently much higher than his opposition, and his base isn’t always ideal. He will need to correct both of those issues to better utilize his strength. He is also a little soft at the point of contact sometimes. He does a good job once he makes contact of using his hands and strength to win, but he needs to improve his game at the initial point of contact. Overall, though, he has a very high ceiling.

    Thomas does bring a very unique element to his game: He is a very solid pass rusher. Thomas will likely play defensive tackle, and if somebody his size can provide a pass rushing presence on the interior of the line, it provides the defense with an extra element to utilize.

    Thomas is a very talented football player, and this past season he was a finalist for the Mr. Football award for a lineman in the state of Tennessee. As a defender, he had 54 solo tackles and another 23 assists. He had 13 tackles for a loss and sacked the quarterback 11 times. Thomas also forced two fumbles and returned one of them for a touchdown.

    The Vols currently have just one defensive tackle committed to them in their 2020 class, and that’s four-star Dominic Bailey.

    Our Take:

    Thomas getting back to campus a week ago really helped Tennessee get back into the thick of things in his recruitment. It had been over seven months since Thomas had been on UT’s campus before his recent visit. Now that he’s had a chance to come back to Knoxville and meet with Tennessee’s coaches again, the Vols are right back in it with him.

    There’s still a long way to go with Thomas, but Tennessee is better positioned now than they were a month or so ago. If UT can get him to come back in the fall, then they’ll continue to be a major player for the talented in-state lineman.