DT Caleb Thomas Blown Away by UConn
February 3, 2017
Over the last two years, the UConn football program has lost two key stalwarts to their defensive line in tackles Julian Campenni and Mikal Myers. That's the sort of player Randy Edsall and his coaching staff are hoping from the signee who is travelling the furthest to Storrs (1,722 miles) in Caleb Thomas, who comes to Connecticut from Mansfield, Texas, just south of Arlington, which sits in between Fort Worth and Dallas. Thomas signed his letter of intent on National Signing Day on Wednesday, an event that just like everything, is done bigger in Texas than anywhere else.
"I had a district wide ceremony with all the rest of the signees in our school district," Thomas said on the phone on Thursday night. "We went up there, we did a mock signing, everybody in the district got to see where all the kids were going and then we had a ceremony at our own school, a little more personable. They introduced all the signees and we celebrated from then on out."
Thomas was originally offered by former head coach Bob Diaco and his staff, but committed to Nevada in June. Following a mutual agreement between Nevada head coach Brian Polian and the school to part ways, Thomas stuck with his decision until January 13th when he decommitted from the Wolfpack.
"I decided to make the switch because they [Nevada] had a new coaching staff come in and I really didn't like the way things were going with the new staff," he said. "I decided to open up my recruitment. That's when Edsall's staff came in and started talking to me a little more because the previous staff, Diaco's staff offered me. I guess they saw me on their board and decided to keep pursuing me. I took a visit and it really blew me away. I wasn't really expecting what I saw out of it, but UConn is a great place and I'm glad to be a part of it."
What blew him away the most?
"The facilities," he responded quickly. "I wasn't really expecting that. Also, kind of how people were. Coach Edsall is a very personable head coach, he'll come over and shake your hand, he's a real people person. It wasn't what I expected because me being from Texas, Connecticut is kind of a culture shock."
Standing at 6' 0" 289-pounds, Thomas has the size to play defensive line. He'll benefit from the likes of Foley Fatukasi, Kevin Murphy and Sheridan Lawley, who will no doubt embrace Thomas into the close knit, interior d-line group. The Mansfield, Texas native can do a lot on the field, as he described the traits he does well.
"First off, I like to have a quick get off," Thomas said. "I feel like if you get off quicker than the guy across from you then he's not going to have a very good chance of beating you. That's my first goal when I line up for a play. I also feel like I have pretty good strength, although I know that is going to be different at the next level because there will be guys that are stronger than me or just as strong. I will have to use some more of my athleticism at the next level. I have a pretty good technique, using my hands as much as possible with pass rushing angles. I try to use that to my advantage when I go against offensive lineman."
Thomas spoke about a culture shock and the same is true with how high school football is viewed from Texas to Connecticut. The movie Friday Night Lights encapsulates everything that happens in the Lonestar State during and after the season. Thomas highlighted some key points.
"It's very big, people take it very seriously," he said. "The whole week if you are out, the people when i'm around town, they'll talk to me about the game, talk to me about the season. It's all about football. It's really football throughout the entire year, even after the season, they'll talk about next season and how it's going to be. Basically, football is a way of life and coming from that, it's a great level of competition playing in Texas."
In addition to Nevada, Thomas also held an offer from Army and took an unofficial visit to Texas. Academics are important to him and unlike many players entering school, he knows exactly what he wants to pursue.
"I plan on majoring in physical therapy," he said. "Academics are a big part of it. You will always need to have the degree and football may not work out, things happen with injuries and talent. You will always need your education to fall back on."
Talking the day after signing day, the energy from Thomas could be heard when he talked about the rest of the class and what the future of UConn football will hold.
"We are all excited, everyone is excited," Thomas said. "The recruits are ready to turn it around and bring back what Coach Edsall had his first time around here. We are going to bring back wins and bring back championships. We are trying to do something big up there with UConn."
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