Matthew Thomas is a 5-star linebacker from Booker T. Washington High in Miami, Florida, and he's going to be one of the bigger commits from the 2013 college football recruiting class.
The kicker is, we're not sure where exactly he's going to end up yet. Thomas has not made a verbal commit and he has offers from a plethora of big-time college football schools according to 247Sports. They do have Florida State on top of his list though, followed by Alabama and Miami both with warm interests, so those would be the schools to look out for as of right now in regards to his recruitment.
Any of them would be lucky to snag a player of his caliber.
Here's my scouting report on linebacker Matthew Thomas and a prediction on where I see him playing college football at:
First off, let's start with size. 247sports has him listed at 6'3.5'', 201 pounds, which is pretty good for a high school linebacker, but he's going to have to put on some weight at the college level. That said, his speed and football instincts all but make up for that.
Speed is the biggest thing that sets Thomas apart from other outside linebackers. He's incredibly quick off the edge, and his downhill speed is amazing. Once he diagnoses where the ball is, he gets there in a flash.
He's also versatile enough as to where he can play with his hand down in a 3-point stance at end, or in a two point stance at linebacker, though at the college level he will definitely be better suited at linebacker in space.
What I really like about Thomas is the way he fills running lanes. Notice in the picture below how his eyes are in the backfield on the snap of the ball, and his first move as a linebacker is toward the line of scrimmage. That helps him get a jump on the ball carrier.
Next is the angle that he takes to the ball carrier. It's not too steep or two wide as indicated by the potential angles in red. Too steep and the ball carrier would get outside of him. If his angle was too wide, he wouldn't be getting into the backfield quick enough.
Instead he takes the perfect path that leads him to where the ball carrier is going and allows him to make the tackle well in the backfield.
Thomas' closing speed is phenomenal, and that with his natural instincts to stretch the field or take good angles will make him a very consistent and productive linebacker at the next level.
Where could he land?
I'm going to give the Florida State Seminoles the advantage here in Thomas' recruitment. While Alabama is certainly an intriguing option for linebackers as aggressive as he his, his size may not suit playing in the SEC as much as it would playing for the Seminoles in the ACC.
Jimbo Fisher would be able to utilize his speed and aggressiveness, and he wouldn't have to be as physically big in order to find a great amount of success.
There's also the fact that Florida State is an in-state school for Thomas, so he won't have to be too far from home.
This is a linebacker that can go a long ways in helping Florida State achieve their national championship dreams. If they get him, it will be a huge recruiting win. Right now it appears as if they have the advantage, so let's see if they can hold on to it.