August 16, 2012 11:25:24 AM
STARKVILLE -- It was just time for Jake Thomas to end the unnecessary drama.
The four-star offensive tackle from Columbus High School called the Mississippi State University coaching staff Wednesday to confirm his verbal commitment to the program.
"After talking with his mother today, he was just trying to concentrate on enjoying his senior year here," Columbus High coach Tony Stanford said. "It sort of went like this for Jake, I've always been a Mississippi State fan, it's close to home and let's just get it over with and done right now."
Thomas, who is rated one of the best offensive lineman prospects in the state of Mississippi, took an unofficial visit to MSU in March and attended the MSU Big Dawg camp the past two seasons.
"It's a big stadium here, and I can sure see myself playing in an atmosphere like this when it's full on a Saturday," Thomas said in 2011 at the New Hope High School jamboree at Davis Wade Stadium.
Thomas is the 17th verbal commitment of MSU's 2013 recruiting class. The class is ranked 22nd in the nation, according to 247Sports.com. The Bulldogs have received verbal pledges from five of the top 10 prospects in the Magnolia State. South Panola High athlete Antonio Connor and Itawamba Agricultural High tailback Ashton Shumpert are undecided.
Thomas chose MSU over the University of Southern Mississippi. The offensive tackle also received interest from the University of Alabama and Stanford University.
"I think he was intrigued about the possibility of leaving home and going to a school far away, but, at the end of it all, Mississippi State was always there for him," Stanford said. "I feel like he's happy with the decision he made, and that's the most important thing."
This past May, Thomas was one of nine Mississippians nominated for this season's U.S. Army All-American Bowl game at noon Jan. 5, 2013, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Thomas, who is 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, is expected to help MSU overhaul its offensive line. He is expected to join Jackson Academy's Jamaal Clayborn, South Panola High four-star prospect Deon Mix, and Hollandale Simmons High lineman Kent Flowers as members of the Class of 2013.
Stanford said Thomas is fully recovered from a foot injury he suffered the first day of spring drills, and will be 100 percent for the team's season opener against Aberdeen at 7:30 Friday night.
Stanford said Thomas can help MSU return to its old-school roots in the running game as a special physical force on off-tackle run plays that have become trademarks of tailbacks like Jerious Norwood, Anthony Dixon, and Vick Ballard.
"When I see Jake put on those knee braces and go out there to play, I see a lineman that looks like one of those Nebraska lineman from back in the 1980s," Stanford said. "He looks like somebody the University of Wisconsin would put on the field right now and just plow the road."
Thomas will be a senior on a rebuilding offensive line at Columbus High. Trace Lee, the younger brother of former MSU quarterback Tyson Lee, will lead he Falcons at quarterback.
"He's really trying to be a leader on our offensive line this season, and because of that, we think we can be a lot better up front by the end of the season," Stanford said. "What we've been really surprised about with Jake's progress is his ability to run like a stallion and mix that with a great understanding of how to use his hands and feet."
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