Coppell (TX) boasted one of the state’s top defenses in 2012, giving up an average of 8.2 ppg, including holding four teams to just one field goal, as well as pitching a shutout. A big piece of the puzzle for the Cowboys was junior defensive end Solomon Thomas. The 4-star strong-side end recorded 80 tackles, 14 for loss, six sacks and two pass breakups this season but the state’s top 2014 defensive lineman feels there’s still room for improvement.
Thomas is the No. 3 rated SDE in the country according to 247Sports Composite.
“I’d say I had a decent year,” said the modest Top247 prospect. “I focused more on technique, working on what my coaches told me, instead of going out there and trying to make every play. I feel like I have so much more to improve on so I can’t say it was my best year. I definitely need to work on my burst and pass-rush a lot more. I still feel like I need to get better in run support.”
According to Thomas, there are a handful of NFL defensive lineman he watches closely on Sundays that he tries to emulate his game after.
“I really like to watch JJ Watt, Ndamukong Suh and Julius Peppers,” Thomas said. “Those are my favorite guys in the NFL. Especially, JJ Watt because he’s so dominant at his position.”
The country’s No. 25 overall rated prospect will have offers from the nation’s top programs. With the contact period currently open, college coaches have been stopping through to check in on the 6-3, 251-pounder.
“This week, coaches have been coming by,” he said. “On Monday, A&M came by. Last Tuesday, Oklahoma came by and so did Iowa. Today, Stanford came by, Texas was here and so was Oklahoma State.”
Because of all the attention he’s garnering early on, Thomas is not rushing his decision or close to narrowing down his list.
“I’m focusing on recruiting a little more now the season is over,” he said. “I’m really trying to see what schools best fit me and what coaches fit me and are like my high school coaches. I’m trying to figure out more about each school because I don’t want to rule anyone out and potentially miss out on an opportunity.”
While Thomas has no leaders, he admits there have been a few schools that have made early impressions on him.
The Aggies have made a strong push as of late to become a contender for his services.
“The Oklahoma staff, I really like Texas A&M’s staff, Stanford’s staff and Texas’ staff,” he said. “Baylor’s coaches reach out to me a lot, Notre Dame and UCLA too.”
He added on what schools contact him the most, ”Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas and Texas A&M contact me the most. Baylor also.”
There also seems to be a school that Thomas wasn’t high on early in the process but seems to be warming up to here recently.
“I really liked how A&M did in the SEC this year,” he said. “I’m not going to choose a school based off one year because they could be good one year and then be terrible the next. A&M really surprised everyone, including myself, going 6-2 in the SEC. That’s a great accomplishment, losing to Florida by three and LSU by five, and then beating Alabama. I like how they never acted like it surprised them, it was their expectation. I just like their style of play. It’s like an old school smash mouth football. That’s the stuff I like because that’s how we practice and play.”
He added, “Coach Polian is the main guy I talk to from A&M. I talk with him a lot. His whole family have been in the NFL. His dad is in the NFL hall of fame. He’s been around college football for a long time with a lot of experience. He really knows how to connect with you personally. That’s something that stands out to me when coaches come to see me.”
Sticking with the A&M theme, Thomas give his take on the Aggie’s move east to the nation’s premier conference. He also gives his opinion on if the opportunity to stay close to home and still play in the SEC has any impact on him.
“The conference to me really doesn’t matter much because I’m going to try to be person I am not matter what and try to achieve my goals wherever I go,” he said. “But after the season, with the accident with our team, it made me feel a little different about going far from home. I’m still perfectly fine with going away, like all the way up to New York or California, but this season has definitely made me double-think about leaving, how often I’ll be coming home, and how far I’ll be from my family. That’s something I’m thinking about a lot more.”
It seemed early on that Thomas wasn’t considering A&M much but he now sees them as a true contender.
Despite having a down season, Thomas is till high on the Longhorns.
“I definitely see A&M being a true contender down the road because it’s close to home, it’s a great school, great academics and they’re in the SEC,” he said. “The coaches told me if I go in, work my butt off, play to my ability, I’ll be able to play early. That’s a big thing for me is early playing time. Really, right now, any school is a contender, but I expect A&M to be a contender in the long run.”
The school many insiders felt like had the upper-hand from the beginning was the University of Texas. Although this season hasn’t gone the way most Longhorn fans expected, Thomas is still very high on Mack Brown’s program.
“I like Texas just the same,” he said. “Their not my number one right now. I don’t have any favorites. I don’t have a top five or anything. I’m still looking at every school but I feel like Texas is a great academic school and they’re a good program even though they’ve had a couple bad years. They’re trying to build up and get better so it’s still the same. Coach (Darrell) Wyatt came by today and Coach (Oscar) Giles talks to me on Facebook quite a bit.”
Thomas has tentative plans to unofficially visit A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU over the next few months but no dates have currently been set. He also attended games at Stanford, OU, Texas and the Red River Rivalry game this fall.
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