|Alliance, OH – 6'1", 180|
|Scout||5*, #4 S, #39 overall, #2 OH|
|Rivals||4*, #12 S, #109 overall, #4 OH|
|ESPN||4*, #10 ATH, #93 overall, #4 OH|
|24/7||4*, #11 S, #80 overall, #4 OH|
|Other Suitors||Ohio State, Notre Dame|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Urban Meyer is still on him hard. Army AA. Early enrollee.|
Senior highlights can be found on hudl. They're mostly offense. Also they are impressive.
If there's one thing extensive googling of Dymonte Thomas assures you of, it's that at this very moment there is an Ohio State fan posting speculation about Dymonte Thomas opting out of his LOI to a twenty-page thread. Someone else will respond to him by pointing out Thomas is already on campus and never actually signed a LOI, and the original poster will respond "yeah, but…" and spin out his reasons for optimism in re: Dymonte Thomas. This is less speculation than dead statistical certainty.
This is kind of strange for a guy that liked Michigan so much he pulled the trigger right after the Denard After Dentist ND game, ie going on two years ago, and never gave any indication of wavering. Or at least it would for any other fanbase.
In any case, Michigan fans have been patiently waiting for and OSU fans derangedly pining for Thomas because he is an Electric Athlete. I do recommend those hudl highlights linked above, which consist mostly of Thomas putting the jets on at running back and leaving chasers yards in the dust. Despite missing most of three games he put up 1,270 yards at 7.3 a pop, largely by doing this:
What He Does Has the capability to score a touchdown anytime he touches the football. Five of Thomas’ touchdown runs went for 50 or more yards. His one TD catch was for 57 yards.
There's one where he decides to split the safeties and the safeties find out their angles have been calibrated so badly that neither gets within five yards of the kid. I expected at least one of 'em to take their helmet off, quit football forever, and fade away as he walks out of the stadium, but the clip doesn't extend long enough for me to test that hypothesis.
That's the kind of thing that gets this kind of quote deployed:
“He has given the program so much and carries himself the right way at all times on and off the field. I’ve heard so many other coaches and even college coaches say he’s one of the most electrifying athletes they’ve ever seen on a football field.” — Ed Miley
Did we mention that Thomas started as a freshman, was also a wrestler and picked up MLB draft interest? Guys like Thomas are the reason recruiting sites had to invent the "athlete" position. Merely seeing him on the other team causes fever dreams about maybe coaching that kid:
1, Dymonte Thomas, Marlington RB-LB-S
Strengths: Just about everything. He’s a great football player. He’s very explosive on both sides of the ball. He’s very aggressive. He has a nose for the football and he’s a great kid, too… When you play Marlington, you worry about taking Dymonte away on the perimeter and you take your chances inside, which wasn't a good option last year.
Weaknesses: I don’t know of any. If we had him, I often thought where would he play, and it’d be any number of positions. He does it all well and he’s such a great tackler.
— Opposing coach
More capital-A Athlete takes:
- Allen Trieu: "college-ready build already … one of his best assets is his speed … simply an excellent athlete."
- Bill Greene: "combines speed, quickness, and great athletic ability with the love of contact … should end his high school career as one of the greatest all-around athletes in Stark County's storied history."
- Coach Ed Miley: “I’ve seen big guys, physical players. I’ve seen kids that can run. He is a combination of size and speed. I know he’s 6-1, 190, 200, but he plays much bigger than that. He is very explosive.”
- Josh Helmholdt: "The first thing to know about Thomas is that he is fast… extremely fast."
And perhaps most remarkably, ESPN's evaluation of him does not state "he is more quick than fast" or "lacks a top gear," which damn near every evaluation of a non-lineman will throw in there at some point even if you are pretty damn fast. Instead($):
Thomas is a physically impressive looking athlete and overall football player. … Plays a hybrid type role … He is quick to read and react and flashes very good closing burst when he locates the football. Gets through the trash with good lateral agility. He plays the position fast and pursues with a high motor and little wasted motion to the ball. Has the range to make plays in all three levels of the defense and is a true ball-hawk. He closes hard and with impressive pop. Runs through and is a hitter who will force turnovers and bring an intimidating presence to the position. … has the size, athleticism and ball skills to develop as a coverage guy along with very good make-up speed.
When ESPN does not note you are not as fast as an NFL player, you are fast. QED.
The catch, such that it is, is that Thomas has not shown an ability to play safety yet. Marlington used him as a weakside linebacker. Thus many of the scouting reports on him mention an uncertainty about whether he has the coverage technique to get the stars his athleticism suggests he should. No one pounded on this more frequently than Josh Helmholdt, who declared three different times that he didn't want to "get too bullish on his ranking until we were able to more thoroughly assess his coverage skills" despite also joining the "extraordinary athlete" chorus. The big reveal($) after Thomas played safety at the Army All-American game:
…Dymonte Thomas was the prospect I felt had the most to prove at the all-star games because we had not seen him in coverage yet. Thomas started out with a rough first day of practices at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and his lack of experience in coverage was evident. But as the week progressed Thomas adjusted well, and by the Army Bowl he was in on a lot of plays and was able to show off his speed. At the end of the day, where we had Thomas ranked going into the Army Bowl was pretty accurate.
In one week he went from incapable to in on a lot of plays, so they ranked him correctly. Seems a little stubborn there.
Similar notes of concern come from Scout's Scott Kennedy, who lists "coverage awareness" as a weakness and says "coverage awareness and technique will come with experience on defense," which is the nice way to put it. Scout is the most bullish of the four sites, FWIW, probably because this is the good bit of their eval:
Change of Direction
…plays both sides of the ball with aggression. He attacks the defenders when he's running the ball, and he punishes ball carriers on defense. A strong safety type, Thomas has good acceleration and balance. He's good enough on offense to stay at running back similar to Matt Elam (UF) at the same stage.
ESPN notes that "he is not asked to defend a lot in space and man-to-man coverage skills are an area that will need some refinement" and says that he's not much for flipping the proverbial hips at this juncture.
Of course, Thomas has already been on campus for a semester. In that time he seems to have locked down the starting nickel spot. Michigan has been making do with small cover-oriented guys like Courtney Avery there ever since Thomas Gordon was needed deeper. As a result the nickel package has very rarely featured anything except coverage from the nickelback and has been limited to passing downs only. In modern football that is a bit of a problem. See Jake Ryan lining up over triple WR formations to murder screens. It works, but it would be nice to murder screens and have Jake Ryan rushing the passer.
Thomas brings a different skill package and can be deployed on nominal running downs. especially against the spread. Steve Wiltfong:
“He has a chance to be special at Michigan. …physically ready to go. He has the size and speed you’re looking for at the safety position. He can come down and play near the line of scrimmage and he can also cover and deliver the smack to ball carriers. He can force turnovers with his physical size of play. He is a fantastic get for Michigan there.”
His coach is talking about Thomas as a safety here but is even more so laying out the blueprint for a hybrid nickel defender:
"His advantage will be the time he has played linebacker in the box for us, because unlike a lot of high school defensive backs, Dymonte is used to the physical contact and loves it. He is used to coming up and thumping people, and he can close on the ball."
Greg Mattison declared him "definitely physically ready" and talked up his coachability:
“He’s very fast and he’s a young man that it’s not too big for him. He comes in everyday and you correct him, he doesn’t go in the tank. He immediately says, ‘ok what do I have to do?’ Very seldom does he do it wrong again.”
…“Based on the spring you’re going to see a guy that’s headed in the right direction to be there quite a bit this fall,” said Mattison.
“He’s a guy that, this summer, again, if he continues to do what he’s doing -- but we’ve been very happy with him.”
Thomas's attitude, cited just above, is another asset. I always perk up when I hear a kid's dad was in the military; Dymonte's dad is a former Marine who put his kids through "boot camp"($) if they slacked off. Thomas was also more than fine with splitting carries with eventual Tennessee recruit Alden Hill:
"Look, Dymonte is a one in a million type of player," Miley stated Friday. "We've had Division-I recruits here the past few years in Zach Higgins (Michigan State) and Alden Hill (Tennessee), but there's nobody like Dymonte. He has started for four years now for me, and I love the kid. Dymonte has never met a stranger, and he's the most personable kid on the team, yet he's a team player first."
"Everybody was worried about his stats last year but him," Miley added. "How many five-star recruits play scout-team tailback, to give the first defense a better look? Dymonte does. He will do whatever it takes to make himself and the team better. He will finish his career with over 5,000 yards rushing and 400 tackles. The 5,000 yards rushing will be amazing because he has split carries with Hill, who ended up with 4,973 yards. Imagine if Dymonte had the carries that Alden had the past few years? What would that yardage total look like? He will end up over 5,000 yards rushing as the second option most of his career. And he's the best defensive player in Stark County history, in my opinion."
It may take some time for Thomas to become a refined engine of death. It looks like it'll take less than the skeptics above predicted what with the instant starting job.
" Michigan will probably use him as a kickoff returner too, and Mattison said he could help out on offense."
I guess there are worse things to hear about a commit:
…came up in run support very well Tuesday and even when he struggled with guys like [Derrick] Green, he came back as physical as ever.
Hey, we got that kid too! /self high five
Why Stevie Brown? I know that probably made you break out in hives, but think about good late Stevie Brown: the kind of athlete who can pop a lead blocker and get out to the edge, who blitzes with speed and brings a load, who can cover underneath and down the seam. Who plays a hybrid LB/DB role. That's what Thomas is now, both as a high school linebacker and possibly—probably—Michigan's starting nickelback this fall.
Meanwhile, Brown finally figured out that whole safety thing en route to eight interceptions and a New York Giants interception return yardage record; Thomas has the same NFL-level athleticism and questions about his ability to translate that into reliable deep safety play. As a recruit, Brown was in the same range as Thomas; Dymonte's probably an inch or two taller. This comparison is a tight one.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. Heavily scouted, Army guy, but positional questions and this review comes after we got a lot more information about the kid at Michigan's spring practice.
Variance: Moderate. Obviously brings all the athleticism you could want to the position and should be an okay starter at the very least.
Ceiling: Vast. Ripped a starting job away from a senior in no time flat, would be competitive in a race with Denard.
General Excitement Level: Just under vast. Smart kid with great personality and military dad should mean he scrapes his high ceiling; still, whenever you're projecting…
Projection: Um, seems to have already taken over the starting nickel position?
Down the road, Thomas may get a shot at replacing Thomas Gordon next year. In an ideal world I think he sticks at nickel for his career, operating as a frequently-deployed spread antidote and triple threat (rush the passer, defend the run, cover) in a system where he is as much of a starter as anyone else on the team. Michigan will of course cross-train the guy at deep safety to give them added flexibility and injury insurance. Like Gordon he may get dragged deeper because Michigan needs him, but that'll depend on Delano Hill, Jeremy Clark, and Jarrod Wilson… unless Thomas is just too good to ever take off the field, which you can't discount.
Also, I will not be surprised if Thomas ends up being the primary kick returner at some point. He has the raw Stonum-like speed to be a vertical threat there.