In today’s Journal you can find a signing day follow-up I wrote on offensive tackle Jake Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder from Columbus High School. The point of the story was to look at a player who’s flown under the radar a bit but could have a huge impact for MSU down the line.
I had a good talk with Thomas yesterday. He was fresh off Tuesday’s International Bowl, a high school all-star game played in Austin, Texas. Thomas, a left tackle from Columbus, actually played guard in the game, which the U.S. team won, 29-14. He said he enjoyed playing a new position.
“It kept me on my toes a lot,” Thomas said. “I had to think a good bit. I had to think through a good bit more just being at a different position, calling out protections and stuff. It’s kind of a whole new world over there, bunch of defensive calls. Usually you’re blocking those quick, really athletic guys. But these guys were usually bigger, strong guys.”
Thomas was recruited by State as a tackle, but he said the coaching staff isn’t locking him into a position just yet. The tackle spot has been troublesome for MSU the last couple of years, but even if that’s where Thomas winds up, there’s still the question of when he gets on the field.
“Either way it goes it’ll kind of be a good thing,” he said. “Academically it’d be great to get redshirted. But I guess I really would love to play starting out, but I feel like I could work hard enough to get to that position.”
MSU signed three offensive linemen in its 21-man class, the others being guard Jamaal Clayborn and tackle Kent Flowers.
As mentioned in the story, coach Dan Mullen likes that Thomas has been big for a while, which means he knows how to move around and has good footwork. That should ease his transition to the college game and is one reason Thomas could get on the field relatively early.
“I feel like I’m really prepared for the most part going into it,” he said. “I know there’s still a long way to go and a lot more room to fill, and there’s a lot more that I can do better.”
Thomas has had a connection with Mullen and MSU for a while. Mullen said he first heard of Thomas as an eighth-grader; Thomas recalls first having contact with the program in ninth grade.
“So every year Jake would come over in the spring, I’d be like, ‘Is this it?’” said Mullen. “‘No, coach, I’m only a sophomore right now.’ I’m like, holy cow.”
Thomas confirmed that story.
“During the whole time we’ve had that time to build up a relationship,” Thomas said. “I feel like I became less of a recruit to him and more of a future player. They knew how to shoot me straight, and they weren’t trying to play around with recruiting.”
Even though he’s been close to the program for a while, it was a big deal for Thomas to fax in his letter of intent Wednesday morning and make it official. He did so before leaving Texas.
“It was icing on the cake. I was really excited about getting in there. It just signifies that next step.”