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Texas offers TCU WR commit JF Thomas

Will Thomas flip to the Horns like his teammate Johnson?

J.F. Thomas at a Nike event
J.F. Thomas at a Nike event
Student Sports

On the same day the Texas Longhorns offered and received a pledge from South Oak Cliff safety Jamile Johnson, head coach Charlie Strong and his staff also extended an offer to his teammate, TCU wide receiver pledge J.F. Thomas.

The 6'4, 185-pound wide receiver hasn't exactly been hiding at South Oak Cliff given all of his highly-recruited teammates. The Bears also went 11-2, and won three games in the playoffs.

Thomas was a big part of those efforts through the air, catching 35 passes for 593 yards and 14 touchdowns, an average of two scores for every five receptions.

Still, an offer on April 10th was enough for the Horned Frogs to land his commitment and may have helped spark some more serious interest from other programs. At the time, his best offer was from Maryland.

Within the next month, Thomas picked up offers from Nebraska, Ohio State, Boise State, Texas Tech, LSU, and Louisville.

After the offer from the Buckeyes, Ohio State trended in the 247Sports Crystal Ball for Thomas, but the bigger threat may now be from the Horns, as Texas surged into the lead on Tuesday with seven predictions coming in from the industry.

A consensus three-star prospect, Thomas is ranked as the No. 50 wide receiver, the No. 59 player in the state of Texas, and the No. 429 player nationally.

The offers aren't about major combine performances, showings that have helped the stock of another teammate, running back Jordan Stevenson, who is one of the few Mack Brown pledges left in the 2015 class.

At a Nike event, Thomas ran a 4.90 40 and posted a 4.40 shuttle and 28.7-inch vertical leap, all extremely average numbers.

Probably the most important thing to understand about Thomas, though, without knowing more about his nutrition and background, is that he's an extremely lanky prospect, the type that could benefit tremendously from a college strength and conditioning program and will need to do so.

He's not as skinny as current Texas A&M wide receiver Edward Pope coming out of high school at Carthage, but he's not far off, either.

The highlight video for Thomas starts with a telling play. Against press coverage, the long and lean prospect shouldn't be at his best because he's not a clearly overwhelming player physically. However, Thomas uses some agility to beat the defender at the line of scrimmage and then pulls away in the open field. Having single coverage with no safety over the top helps make the play happen, but for those wanting game speed out of Thomas, it's there from the beginning of his highlights.

On the next play, Thomas again beats press coverage on a go route down the sideline and makes the safety pay for a poor angle with another long touchdown.

He will have to learn how to use his hands better in those situations, as both cornerbacks failed to get their hands on Thomas to give him resistance in his first several steps.

There's a subtle art to getting open deep that isn't often easy to quantify beyond the players who possess pure, incredible speed, but Thomas has some attributes of the guys who can make defenders pay for an unhealthy lack of respect for their get-off.

Not often easy to quantify, it's a combination of footwork leading to strong route-running and deceptive speed that defenders consistently underestimate.

Other routes that big receivers should win include slants and fades in the red zone, where Thomas had some success as a junior as well. Even without an elite vertical, his length and pure height give him a major advantage over smaller cornerbacks.

Time and time again, Thomas creates separation on those plays.

The question is whether he can make defenders miss on shorter passes and whether his athleticism will translate to college, when he will face faster, taller, more athletic defensive backs. And there are no guarantees there, as wide receivers are one of the more difficult positions to project from high school to college.

The tools are there, though, on game days.

TCU has made a habit of evaluating and offering players early and finding success doing so and Thomas looks like another example of strong work by the Horned Frogs staff.

Unfortunately for head coach Gary Patterson and company, it may not be enough to hold off the late-arriving Horns.

After losing two wide receivers to dismissals during the fall, a small class in 2015 may need to include two complements to committed Florida prospect John Burt and though Thomas lacks the speed that helped make the dismissed Montrel Meander a target worth offering, he does have some similar end-result ability as a deep threat.

With two teammates already committed to the Horns, will Thomas follow suit?