Last month, four-star, in-state lineman Omari Thomas listed the Vols as one of his six finalists in his recruitment. Now, he’ll not only be giving Tennessee an official visit, but he said some glowing remarks about UT’s head coach in a recent interview.
The 6-foot-5, 299-pound lineman who plays for Briarcrest Christian in Memphis spoke with Khari Thompson of the Memphis Commercial Appeal about the six teams among his finalists. Thomas told Thompson that Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas A&M will be getting official visits from him, and he’s still trying to decide between Ole Miss and Auburn for his fifth and final visit.
When asked about why he chose the Vols as one of his finalists, Thomas spoke about UT being the main in-state program and the fact that he likes the idea of coming in and building a program.
“They’re the in-state school. You get a good feeling there. It’s comfortable,” Thomas told Thompson. “It’s a program that’s been down a little bit but will be on the rise with the new coaching staff. That’s what they’re selling – come here and build this program back to where it used to be. And I like the idea of coming to build a program.”
That idea of building a program is strong in Thomas’ mind, so much so that it gives him a little pause when considering Alabama.
Thomas told Thompson that Alabama already being at the apex of college football doesn’t hurt their chances with him, but it does make him sit back and consider them differently.
“But the way I think – not saying that I wouldn’t consider Alabama, but I think that I want to help a school build a legacy, not necessarily join one,” Thomas said of the Crimson Tide. “Joining one wouldn’t hurt, but it’s a situation that I’d have to look into and see if I fit there and if I’m comfortable there.”
That’s not all Thomas had to say, though.
When asked about Tennessee’s coaches and his relationship with Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, Thomas stated that Pruitt is a players coach who isn’t a pushover but will care about his players at the same time.
“Coach Pruitt is a laid-back guy, but he’s going to get on you. It’s not going to be easy there. He’s not a pushover,” Thomas stated. “But he’s a players coach, and that’s the kind of coach you want – someone who will get on you but talk to you as well.”
Though Thomas is listed by recruiting services as an offensive tackle, he’s expected to play along the defensive line in college. That’s where UT is recruiting him, and so are most other programs. Auburn is the only school in his top six recruiting him as an offensive lineman currently.
“Auburn, they talk to me as both. I can see myself being more of an offensive tackle at Auburn,” Thomas added.
Thomas took an unofficial visit to UT’s campus back on June 9th, and that marked the first time he had been back in Knoxville since an unofficial trip to campus in October of 2018 when the Vols hosted him as they took on Alabama. Despite the long absence from campus, Tennessee’s coaches kept Thomas at the top of their list. New defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley even paid Thomas a visit back in mid-April.
The four-star prospect from Memphis is rated as the No. 93 overall player and No. 4 prospect from Tennessee in the 2020 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He’s also listed as the No. 8 defensive tackle in the cycle. He was a finalist for the Mr. Football award for a lineman in the state of Tennessee as a junior this past season. As a defender, he had 77 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, and 11 sacks. Thomas also forced two fumbles and returned one of them for a touchdown.
Thomas will be announcing his college decision on January 4th live on NBC during the All-American Bowl.