This is not the profile I wanted to write last. I was going up the rankings then had plans to write about Donte Starks and Soni Fonua to finish things off. Unfortunately, an ankle injury that required surgery changed things, sidelining Kardell Thomas for the entire season. Maybe next year, I can just re-hash this article in a “Better Know a Red-Shirt Freshman” article. It’s a disappointing early end for Thomas, who was already making huge strides to earning a starting spot his freshman year.
Kardell Thomas wasted little time in high school before deciding where he wanted to go, committing to LSU at a camp in the summer before his sophomore season. Even after making his intentions known with the in-state Tigers, recruiting didn’t stop for the physically dominant lineman. Texas, Florida, Alabama and Florida State all continued their pursuit, but it was all for naught as Thomas stayed true to his original commit.
Thomas hovered around the top 30 overall throughout most of his time in high school. However, weight issues slightly affected his performance, causing him to fall to No. 97 after his senior season, but still a top-five guard.
There were senior highlights on Youtube, but they weren’t formatted as nicely as Hudl does it, so I went with these. It’s quickly apparent that there is a level of strength that is of the highest degree for any high school recruit. It just can’t be fun for the smaller guys he goes up against to feel his hands clasp on that jersey, knowing full well that you are about to go for a ride.
I did want to include this though:
The camp scene gives you a better glimpse at his sheer talent. These aren’t some high school defensive end that likely has no aspirations of playing football at the next level. This is the best of the best he is going up against and still holding his own. You can start to see that weight gain that inhibited his senior year, but the talent is still definitely there. That meanness is always something I can’t get enough of and it’s on display often. One thing he will need to work on is that foot quickness as some of the faster guys could still get around him, even if it was a more circuitous route.
Things were beginning to look bleaker for Thomas. He had ballooned up to 356 pounds at the Army All-American Bowl in January, moving up into the 360s shortly thereafter. But a transformation occurred shortly thereafter. Thomas began eating healthier, changed his workouts and dropped to an amazing 329 pounds as listed on the LSU roster. With that came better quickness, and camp injuries gave him the opportunity to practice with the first team. Things were going in the right direction, a potential starting spot on the line was within grasp until an ankle injury derailed everything.
Thankfully, the injury is not a debilitating one, meaning Thomas should come back good as new, but those weight concerns will be something to watch once again with his inability to work out for awhile. Thomas wasn’t likely to start anyway, but both of LSU’s current guards are seniors, so Thomas will have a great chance to find a spot on the line in the spring.
High End: After a medical redshirt year, Thomas continues his resurgence, staking his claim to a starting spot on the line and becoming a force that finds his way to a high NFL Draft pick.
Low End: The injury brings back the weight issues and he struggles to regain that momentum he had pre-injury.
Realistic: You can’t help but be optimistic at what Thomas can bring. He had dropped nearly 30 pounds and seemed to have his mind set on becoming a household name. I’ll bet that he stays motivated even after the injury and earns that starting spot next spring.