Trieu: UM maintains southern momentum with ‘lightning bolt’ Thomas

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Charles Thomas

There were several interesting storylines in Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class, among them, the Wolverines’ success at IMG Academy, signing linebacker Jordan Anthony and offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz, and their good fortune in Georgia, pulling five-star Aubrey Solomon and Kurt Taylor.

On Saturday, the Wolverines received their first commitment in the 2019 class in linebacker Charles Thomas, who continues the momentum for both of those efforts. A Georgia native who transferred to IMG for this season, his early verbal should give Michigan fans confidence that their staff will continue to recruit both IMG and Georgia very well.

Clemson, Tennessee, North Carolina and others were in hot pursuit of Thomas. Despite some close to him wondering about distance and cold weather, his weekend visit to Ann Arbor convinced the hard-hitting 6-foot-0, 220-pound prospect his best opportunity for success was to head north and play for defensive coordinator Don Brown.

“The coaching staff and then the defense (and) how it’s ran (is why I chose Michigan),” Thomas said. “Coach Brown is a genius and I would love to play for somebody like him.”

In particular, Brown’s penchant for aggressive, attacking defenses with many blitzes is what appealed to Thomas, who plays with a similarly fast, high-impact style.

“He is a lightning bolt,” Scout’s Corey Bender said of Thomas. “He is not the biggest linebacker, but he can stop on a dime and reach top speed in a hurry. There is no doubting his motor and ability to wreak havoc in space. He is a headhunter who flies from sideline to sideline.”

One of Michigan’s great centers? Cesar Ruiz off to good start

That description could easily fit recent Wolverine linebacker signees like Anthony and fellow Floridian Devin Bush.

The Wolverines have a reputation on defense – fast and aggressive – and Thomas fits that.

In addition to his own merits, he will also help in the effort to recruit running back Noah Cain, another IMG product who was on campus over the weekend. Some consider Cain to be the top running back in the 2019 class, and Thomas will be working on his friend to get him to Ann Arbor.

The good news for Michigan fans is, he is off to a good start in that pursuit, and any other time Thomas has had to pursue a running back, they have rarely escaped his grasp.

“We’re real close,” said Thomas if Cain. “We’re like brothers. He fell in love with the school, too. He loves the school just like me.”

Four-star LB puts Wolverines in top group

Indianapolis Lawrence Central linebacker Cameron McGrone was offered by Michigan on Friday when he visited campus.

McGrone, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound four-star, later named the Wolverines as part of a top six that also includes Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Prior to this offer, most considered the Fighting Irish and Badgers to be the top two schools in the running for him, but McGrone spoke highly of Michigan following his visit.

The Wolverines have had good success in Indianapolis the last few cycles, signing quarterback Brandon Peters, running back Chris Evans and receiving a verbal commitment from offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor.

Wolverines offer lifelong Michigan fan

One of the camp offers extended over the weekend was to Crystal Lake (Ill.) South offensive tackle Trevor Keegan. A 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior-to-be, Keegan holds offers from Northwestern, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa and more, but he admitted this Michigan offer was an important one.

“This is such a huge family tradition for us, and to get an offer from Michigan is insane. I’m very, very interested in Michigan,” he said. “I grew up a fan. This was a dream offer.”

Keegan said he plans to get back to Michigan for a game in the fall.

More information

Charles Thomas profile - http://www.scout.com/player/208395-charles-thomas

Cameron McGrone profile - http://www.scout.com/player/205960-cameron-mcgrone

Trevor Keegan profile - http://www.scout.com/player/204599-trevor-keegan

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.