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Better Know a Freshman: Brian Thomas Jr.

Big bodied wide out should be exactly what the Tiger receiving room needs

For as long as LSU has a football team, the program will never have issue getting top tier wide receivers, especially from Louisiana.

From now until the heat death of the universe Louisiana will always produce receivers that are gifted pass catchers that are fast as hell and can jump over buildings. LSU has that right now with guys like Kayshon Boutte, Trey Palmer, Jaray Jenkins, and Jontre Kirklin. But every wide receiver room needs a big bodied receiver that can use their size to box out defensive backs on jump balls. LSU has that now with Brian Thomas Jr.

The Story

The strangest thing surrounding Thomas’s recruitment was how quiet it all was.

Thomas wasn’t tweeting out graphics with his top six schools like most kids do, in fact it looks like he has hardly any kind of social media presence at all. The last tweet he sent was roughly 10 months ago.

No Thomas played this as close to the vest as I can remember a recruit of his caliber doing. The assumption was LSU had this in the bag. And why wouldn’t they, Thomas is a top-100 prospect nationally and played his high school ball (Walker High) 30 minutes away from LSU’s campus. But if you look at the predictions on 247, none of the analysts sounded especially confident in LSU despite being the home team.

In comes Alabama. Thomas had an offer in hand from the Tide and our friends at Roll Bama Roll were convinced Nick Saban and his staff would pluck yet another one of Louisiana’s prized recruits away from the Tigers. That fear only increased when Thomas not only didn’t sign early in December, but he didn’t commit on National Signing Day.

Instead Thomas committed a week later and the strangest recruiting journeys in recent memory ended with him putting on a purple and gold cap.

The Numbers

247 Composite Ranking: ****

247 Composite Rating: .9600

The Film

Scouting report courtesy of 247 Sports Gabe Brooks

Tall, long-framed outside receiver with functional athleticism to move around the formation. Ample frame space to add needed mass in college. Basketball player who has reported D-I offers. Athleticism and ball-winning ability reflect basketball bounce. Shows good body control and timing in high-pointing situations. Dangerous red-zone weapon who can win balls over defenders. Displays good initial quickness in first lateral move to foster impressive run-after-catch ability. Opens it up as a long-striding speed-builder downfield. Owns a large catch radius and generally keeps the ball away from his body as a catcher. Huge production as a junior, but dipped as a senior. Played fewer games but per game averages noticeably declined. Can better leverage defenders into breaks as a route-runner. One of the top couple of wideouts in a stellar in-state class in Louisiana. Projects as a multi-year high-major starter with long-term early-round NFL Draft potential.

First thing that jumps out to me is Thomas’s size. He’s fully aware he’s bigger and taller than opposing DBs and boxes them out with his impressive frame. He’s a great basketball player too and had offers from Division 1 schools to play hoops at the next level—no word on whether Will Wade and LSU offered him as a basketball player—so he’s already got great hops and body control. He does a good job of not letting corners get their hands on him. That’s a great sign because he’ll surely add on another 10 or 15 pounds of muscle once Moffitt gets his hands on him and when he does I don’t think any corner will be jamming him at the line in a year or two.

High End: Excellent complimentary piece alongside Chris Hilton and Deion Smith. Red zone nightmare for defenses. Sort of a cross between Jarvis Landry and Terrace Marshall and, like Landry and Marshall, gets taken in the second round of whatever NFL Draft he declares for.

Low End: Gets lost in the shuffle in a loaded receiver room and can’t carve out a starting role until late in his career. A career similar to Racey McMath’s but with hopefully more production when his time comes.

Realistic: I think just on his size alone Thomas will always have a spot in the rotation, and he’ll be a red zone specialist early on this season. Eventually Thomas works his way up the depth chart and LSU has its new Chase/Jefferson/Marshall trio in him, Hilton, and Smith.