Linebacker Matthew Thomas, a 5-star recruit according to 247Sports.com. was arguably the biggest prize of the 2013 recruiting class for Florida State. Now, it looks like he wants to play somewhere else.
According to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald, Thomas no longer wants to be a Seminole and would appreciate if the coaching staff lets him walk. He would apparently rather play for Georgia or USC.
“I’ve told them it’s nothing personal. I just didn’t make the decision I really wanted to on signing day,” said Thomas, who picked the Seminoles over USC, Georgia and Miami.
This is clearly an issue between Thomas and his family, as his high school coach, Ice Harris, is not getting involved, according to Corey Dowlar of ESPN (paid link.)
"We are not dealing with that situation. It has nothing to do with us and the coaching staff here at Booker T. That is between Matthew and his family."
Navarro reports that the Florida State staff is not willing to release him and plans on visiting him in South Florida to try to work things out.
Thomas elaborated on why he chose FSU in the first place:
What happened was on Signing Day [was] I wasn’t sure who I wanted to sign with. I had issues with different schools. But when I told my mom I didn’t want to sign with anybody and wait and give it a few days, she said I couldn’t do that. She said, "FSU is a good school—pick them. It’s close to home.' I wasn’t agreeing with it. But I felt like I was being disrespectful to her if I didn’t sign. So I made her happy.
Should FSU let Thomas leave the program?
This is understandable, as the pressure of the situation can really get to these kids. You have all of these schools throwing offers on the table and you can only pick one. Every coach is telling you what you want to hear, and then family members are in your other ear trying to help guide you along.
Making a decision that the recruit is happy with and that makes everybody else comfortable is difficult.
Thomas says that the chances of not seeing immediate playing time does play a role in why he wants to leave Florida State:
“My dad talked to me and gave me some facts about the situation,” Thomas said. “If I tried to go to a school in FSU’s conference I would have to sit out a couple years. But that’s not what I want to do.
“I’ve been in Miami all my life. Georgia needs linebackers. It’s a big program. I have family in Georgia. USC, growing up I never thought I would have an opportunity that big. I just want to go have fun and play football.”
This has now become an awkward situation for everybody. The coaching staff doesn't have to let Thomas leave the school, but at the same time, you don't want a kid on the team who may cause distractions on and off the field if he is unhappy.