In the aftermath of yesterday's absurd, mind-blowing, incredible victory, it appeared inevitable that one of the several uncommitted recruits in attendance would get caught up in the excitement and commit to Michigan. That recruit turned out to be 2013 athlete Dymonte Thomas, who hails from Alliance (OH) Marlington and happens to be cousins with one Bri'onte Dunn. Thomas joins Shane Morris in Michigan's class of 2013.
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Player rankings for the 2013 class have yet to be released, but Thomas looks like he'll be at least a four-star when they are, and he's on early watch lists by both ESPN and 247Sports.
Thomas excels on both sides of the ball for Marlington, but it appears he'll be a safety at the next level—Scout, Rivals, and ESPN all list him there, while 24/7 has him as a RB/S prospect. There's a fair amount of disparity in terms of his measurables, where he's listed as big as 6'1", 180 pounds (Scout), and as small as 5'11", 167 (Rivals), with the two other services falling in between, though somewhat closer to the former numbers. At that size, he seems to project better as a safety to me.
Sam Webb talked to his high school coach for a Detroit News article in June, and he had this to say about his junior athlete:
"The thing about Dymonte is that he has two more seasons of high school left," Marlington head coach Ed Miley told Scout.com. "If he keeps on going the way he has so far, he could end up as both the leading rusher and tackler in Stark County history. Dymonte does great in the classroom and is very popular with his teammates. I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
Thomas not only plays running back and safety at Marlington, but linebacker, defensive end, and even nose tackle(!). This article from Friday Night Ohio highlights his love of defense:
“(Dymonte) is pretty special,” Miley said. “What’s different about him for a skilled kid is how physical he is. People see him and they expect a speed guy. They expect a finesse guy. That’s not him.”
Thomas gets noticed on offense because once he gets into the open field, he’s capable of taking it to the end zone every time. It’s opposing running backs and quarterbacks who should be taking notice.
There may not be a harder hitter in Stark County. If he had to pick one side of the ball to play, and only one, Thomas wouldn’t be a star scoring touchdowns.
“I love defense,” he said. “I just like going out there and hitting people. You see people on ESPN getting hit real hard. Those plays make the highlights. I’d like to be on ESPN one day hitting somebody.”
Meanwhile, Ohio State partisan Duane Long just couldn't figure out in August why Ohio State hadn't extended an offer (and never did, as it turns out):
There is a great deal of talk about the 2013 class. I thought I would get out a few more names and I want to do it by position. I just happened to notice a couple of running backs so I decided to look at them first. Who is number one is pretty obvious. Dymonte Thomas is the number one back in the class. He is also the number one safety in the class. I have said this before and I will say it again, the most puzzling lack of an offer out there is Dymonte Thomas. Look at this film and tell me what I am missing that makes Thomas a player who does not have an early offer.
His offer list is better than most seniors to be and he has not even stepped on the field as a junior. His grades are outstanding. He is know to be a high character kid. His measurables are legit. The argument that the Buckeyes are so deep at running back carries no weight. Thomas may be a better safety than he is a running back. I think he is, and he could not care less which position he plays. Baffling non-offer.
When discussing potential 2013 five-star recruits, Scout's Allen Trieu described Thomas as "a big hitter who can cover as well."
So, the consensus on Thomas is that he's a fantastic athlete with great speed who can also bring the wood. Who wants that as a safety? Everyone. He's a big-time prospect who should garner consideration for five-star status, and when you look at the stats and the highlights below, it'll be pretty clear why.
Michigan was joined by Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Tennessee, UCLA, and West Virginia in offering Thomas early. He also had interest, but no offer, from Ohio State (much to the chagrin of Duane Long), Alabama, Florida, Cincinnati, and Northwestern. That's an extremely impressive list this early on in the process. The lack of a Buckeye offer is puzzling, and would be mildly disconcerting if Ohio State recruiting gurus weren't baffled by the lack of an offer.
Prepare to be thorougly impressed. As a freshman, Thomas rushed for 801 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries (8.8 yards per carry) while amassing 56 tackles, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries. That earned him first-team All-Stark County and all-district honorable mention honors. In 2010, as a sophomore, he broke out with 186 rushes for 1,641 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as 132 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery. He was again named first-team all-county, and added second-team All-Ohio Associated Press Division III, All-Northeast Inland first-team, and All-NBC first-team honors. Not bad. Not bad at all.
FAKE 40 TIME
Thomas has been electronically timed running a 4.57 at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, and he looks every bit that fast on film (plus, you know, that's an electronic time, which is obviously far more accurate than your trigger-happy scout with a stopwatch). One FAKE out of five. ESPN also lists Thomas with a 4.47 shuttle time and a 29.5-inch vertical leap.
ScoutingOhio has extensive highlights from Thomas's sophomore season, featuring him playing both offense and defense:
There's also a shorter set of highlights from both his sophomore and freshman seasons. A mute is recommended for each of those videos. Also: Watch him run a very long way in a very short period of time as some unnamed female fan screams, "That's my man, baby."
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I'm going to go ahead and discuss Thomas's prospects as a safety, because it appears at this point that he's a better player at that position and he really likes hitting people. Marvin Robinson, Thomas Gordon, and Carvin Johnson will all be seniors when Thomas begins his freshman season, and Josh Furman (redshirt junior), Tamani Carter (junior/redshirt sophomore), and Jarrod Wilson and Allen Gant (2012 commits) will be on the roster as well, so there isn't a need for Thomas to immediately step in and contribute.
The next year, however, he should be right in the thick of things when it comes to a starting job—Furman has yet to show anything in his career, while Carter and Gant were both three-star-level recruits. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Wilson and Thomas as Michigan's two starting safeties come 2014. Thomas has all the physical tools to be an all-conference safety and more, and I expect the recruiting rankings, when released, will back that up.
If Thomas were to play running back, his path to early playing time could be even more clear. Unless Michigan picks up a running back commit in 2012 (perhaps Dymonte's cousin?), only Fitzgerald Toussaint, Stephen Hopkins, Thomas Rawls, and Justice Hayes will be on the roster as scholarship tailbacks. Toussaint has shown the most promise, but is also made of glass. Hopkins is fumble-prone and has been in and out of two different coaching staffs's doghouses. Rawls is an interesting prospect, but was a middling three-star recruit, while Hayes seems like a better fit at slot receiver or as a third-down specialist than an every-down back. If he plays running back, Thomas could see the field as early as his true freshman season, and he's got the same high-ceiling potential there as he does at safety.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's far too early to discuss the ramifications for the class of 2013, but the elephant in the room is the potential impact on recruits in Thomas's own family. From Webb's DetNews article:
One way that comfort could be enhanced is if Thomas' cousin, Canton Glen Oak five-star senior tailback Brionte Dunn, winds up at the school he picks.
"We talk about it a lot — going to the same school," said Thomas. "We thought it would be pretty cool to go to the same school and play with each other like we used to when we were young."
Though Dunn has remained steadfast in his Ohio State commitment, he's still taking visits, taking one to Penn State for their loss to Alabama yesterday. In Webb's commitment post from last night ($), Thomas says he believes that he'll convince his cousin to join him in Ann Arbor. We'll have to wait and see how that shakes out, as Dunn has played things close to the vest so far, but Thomas committing can only help Michigan's cause in trying to pull in the four-star running back.