On Monday, Tennessee picked up a huge piece of the puzzle in their 2020 recruiting class.
Omari “Big O” Thomas, a four-star defensive/offensive lineman who plays for Briarcrest Christian in Memphis, announced his commitment to the Vols over Auburn and Texas A&M during an announcement ceremony at his high school.
Thomas is one of the top players in the state of Tennessee in the 2020 recruiting cycle. The 247Sports Composite rankings list the 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman as the No. 104 overall recruit, No. 8 defensive tackle, and No. 4 prospect in the state of Tennessee. He was awarded the Mr. Football award in the state of Tennessee in the Division II-AAA classification this season after a stellar senior year.
The elite lineman has visited Tennessee multiple times this year, coming on unofficial trips in June and October and making his official visit to campus when the Vols hosted South Carolina on the football field. He also took official visits to see Texas A&M and Auburn along with unofficial trips to Alabama and Ole Miss during the season.
Back in July, Thomas told Khari Thompson of the Commercial Appeal that UT being the main in-state program and the fact that he likes the idea of coming in and building a program made the Vols one of the standouts in his recruitment.
“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.”
Now, Thomas will get that chance to help build back Tennessee’s football program.
Thomas is capable of playing on either side of the ball at the next level, and it’ll be interesting to see if he ends up moving to the offensive line at any point for Tennessee. As of right now, though, Thomas is slated to play along the defensive line for the Vols.
On film, Thomas bursts off the screen as a physical and vicious defender. He’s very disruptive, and he plays a lot from a defensive end position rather than inside at tackle. Thomas moves exceptionally well for his size, and that kind of movement coupled with his aggressive nature spells doom for opposing running backs more often than not. Really, his speed cannot be understated, and it adds a completely different dimension to his game. Thomas carries that same physicality over to the offensive side of the ball, and he’s a fantastic tackle option on the offensive line, too. He has good footwork and violent hand placement.
As a senior, Thomas totaled 32 tackles, six sacks, and five tackles for loss for Briarcrest. Thomas won the aforementioned Mr. Football award in the Division II-AAA classification, and he beat out his teammate Jabari Small — a three-star running back who recently decommitted from Ole Miss — and 2021 Vol commit Elijah Howard from Baylor School in Chattanooga for the award.
Small, Thomas’ teammate at Briarcrest Christian, is expected to announce his college decision in the afternoon on Tuesday, December 10th. The Vols are expected to be a top choice for the dynamic running back as well. Thomas and Small both go to the same school as one of Tennessee’s top recruiting targets in men’s basketball, too. Five-star point guard Kennedy Chandler in the 2021 class also attends Briarcrest Christian.
With the commitment from Thomas, the Vols now have 19 committed prospects in their 2020 class. Thomas gives Tennessee their ninth in-state commitment in this cycle, and he’s the Vols’ second defensive line commit.