In a statement issued to Warchant, 5-star linebacker Matthew Thomas says that he will make the decision to enroll at Florida State, honoring his national letter of intent.
After meeting with coach Fisher and his staff and gathering all the information I have decided to honor my commitment to Florida State. I also want to be close to my family and I want be part of what they are building at Florida State. I'm looking forward to winning games at Florida State and building towards my future.
The statement and eventual enrollment brings an end to the drama that has surrounded Thomas' commitment.
Now begins the interesting part for Thomas and the team. This is a kid who spent a good amount of time trying to force his way out of Florida State, a kid who said in relatively public fashion that he would rather be elsewhere, a kid whose father stated that he would be enrolling at the University of Southern California.
Once he enrolls, Thomas will be a kid who has to earn the respect of his teammates, prove he's all in with them and do the same with the coaching staff.
Every freshman that enrolls has to prove his worth. You do that in the weight room, on the field and, ultimately, through your interactions with your teammates. The difference between Thomas and the other kids? He let a lot of people know that this is not where he wanted to be.
To be fair, Thomas is not the first kid who ended up at a school that was not his first choice. It happens more often than most fans want to admit. While Thomas' signing day and ensuing fiasco was somewhat unique, going somewhere that was not your first choice is not.
Winning over his teammates will likely be the easy part. As long as the 5-star linebacker works, gives all he has to his team and shows that he is dedicated to getting those wins he mentioned, he will be accepted into the flock. Essentially, prove that you belong, just like the other freshmen, and you shall be welcomed.
For Thomas, the hard part is going to be convincing himself, on the inside, that this is where he belongs. Perhaps the incoming freshman is already at piece with the decision, hence the release and move to enroll with the rest of his classmates.
If he is not convinced, not just in his head but in his heart, that this is the right thing to do, he could be in for a rough ride. Halfhearted football is not an endeavor many would recommend. The energy-draining workouts, lung-burning runs and grueling physical practices lose the inherent joy when the heart is not into the ordeal. It just becomes work, a miserable chore that weighs on the individual.
It becomes a painstaking exercise that is not worth nearly as much as sitting out a year to be at the place that makes you happy.
College football is not easy, especially for freshmen attempting to carve out their niche on a roster. Thomas has a unique case, and that means he'll have to bust his behind just a little more to prove that he is all in on Jimbo Fisher and the team's missions. It is something that can't be done with words; it has to come with your actions in the weight room and on the field.
But it is something that certainly can be done. If Thomas wants it, he can do it. Through his actions, the kid is good enough to gain that respect and then some through his actions.
The question is, how badly does he want it?