Michigan picked up their first commit of the 2019 class on Saturday in inside linebacker Charles Thomas, a Georgia native who'll suit up for IMG Academy to finish out his high school career. Yes, Chris Partridge was the lead recruiter for yet another Peach State product.
Once Thomas saw how he'd be utilized by Don Brown and saw the campus for the first time this weekend, he made his decision:
Thomas’ appreciation for the Wolverines started because of his connection with primary recruiter Chris Partridge, but it went to another level when Brown got involved a few months ago. That’s when he really began seeing himself in a winged helmet.
“Because of the way (the defense) is ran, how it (utilizes) blitzes, and how (Brown) just uses linebackers,” said Thomas.
Other schools will surely continue to make the case that their defenses are even better fits, but Thomas insists he won’t be swayed.
“At this point I know where I stand,” he said. “I know where my loyalty is at, and it’s at Michigan and I don’t plan on changing.”
This is an impressive early pickup for Michigan; Thomas had made several trips to Clemson, which offered him last summer, in the past year. It only took one trip to Ann Arbor to overcome that, and he's already preparing to be a Wolverine.
|NR ILB||NR OLB||NR ILB||
4*, 90, #4 ILB,
It's still early for 2019 rankings. Despite being a high-profile recruit transferring to the highest-profile program in the country, Thomas didn't even have an ESPN profile until yesterday, and the only site that's ranked him so far is 247, which considers him a solid four-star.
Thomas is listed at 6'0", 222 pounds by both Scout and 247. Rivals has him a few pounds lighter, while ESPN pegs him at 5'10, 216. He's in the Devin Bush Jr. mold; a smaller, explosive inside linebacker whose best asset is knifing into the backfield. Bush is listed at 5'11", 232, and Thomas should be around that size by the time he gets to campus.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Since there's not much out there scouting-wise on Thomas, let's start with his sophomore highlight reel:
The first thing that jumps out is his style of play. Thomas is a violent hitter. He reads plays well for a high school underclassman and takes direct angles to the football. He arrives in a hurry on blitzes. We don't get to see much of him fighting off blocks or playing in coverage (the pick in the first clip is a bit of a gift), but his athleticism is apparent.
Scout's Corey Bender has a post-commitment eval that makes Thomas sound like an ideal fit in Don Brown's defense:
The IMG Academy standout is not the biggest linebacker across the map, but there is no doubting his motor and ability to wreak havoc in space. Once dissecting the play, Thomas shows great pursuit and is flat-out relentless once find his lane to the ball carrier. This is a kid who brings it on every play.
Thomas needs to work on exploding out of his stance, but makes up for it by accelerating to the ball in a hurry. His size will pose a challenge when it comes to disengaging off blocks, so getting stronger should be a priority as well. Thomas's speed is often too much for linemen on the high school level, so he is able to beat them to the spot. That will not always be the case in college.
Bender notes that Thomas is already "noticeably bigger" than he looked even in the spring; it sounds like he's well on his way to reaching an ideal playing weight, and he should easily get there after a couple years at IMG.
Thomas holds offers from Auburn, Clemson, Maryland, UNC, Tennessee, and West Virginia, among a few others. The Mountaineers were the first to offer him last May and Michigan followed suit shortly thereafter; he fielded most of his offers in the spring/summer after his freshman season.
Langston Hughes High in Fairburn, Georgia, where Thomas spent his first two seasons, plays in Georgia's second-largest classification. According to the Rivals database, which dates back to 2002, the school has produced four Power 5 signees, all in the last three classes.
IMG Academy, where Thomas will finish out his career, needs no introduction. Michigan landed two IMG recruits in the 2017 class, linebacker Jordan Anthony and center Cesar Ruiz. Thomas will get to test his skills against the best competition in high school football, both in practice on a daily basis and playing IMG's national schedule.
According to his MaxPreps page, Thomas recorded 132 tackles (71 solo), ten TFLs, three sacks, and a pick as a sophomore for Langston Hughes. As a freshman, he had 102 tackles (61 solo) and five TFLs.
FAKE 40 TIME
Thomas's Hudl page lists an unverified 4.63 Hudl time, which gets two FAKEs out of five—that's a rather precise time and Thomas looks to be in that range on film.
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Thomas will be an inside linebacker at Michigan, slotting in at either the MIKE or WILL depending on the depth chart and how he fills out. The Wolverines should be quite set at the position when Thomas arrives on campus after the ridiculous 2017 linebacker haul, which should afford him a redshirt year if needed before he competes for a spot on the two-deep. Given his speed and obvious enjoyment of physical contact, he's a candidate to be an early contributor on special teams, as well.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It will have Charles Thomas in it.
Okay, fine, Thomas's commitment may also have an impact on Michigan's top running back target in the 2019 class, five-star IMG teammate Noah Cain. Both were on campus over the weekend and Thomas told Sam Webb the two are close friends:
Thomas is so sure of his Michigan future that he has already begun recruiting other players. One of his top targets is his IMG teammate and fellow weekend visitor in Ann Arbor, Noah Cain.
“We’re real close,” said Thomas. “We’re like brothers.”
“He said, ‘you committed? I knew it was coming.’’
“He fell in love with the school too. He loves the school just like me.”
That sounds promising.