Name: Mason Thomas
Hometown: Virginia Beach
ESPN: 63; one star; #272 WR
Rivals: 5.3; two stars
Scout: two stars
Other offers: Kent State, Delaware, Old Dominion, Norfolk State
January 21 through the 23 was a big deal for UVA recruitniks; all but a couple of the committed recruits, as well as some of the biggest uncommitted ones, were on an official visit. People had their ears to the ground hoping for a pleasant surprise from someone like Dominique Terrell or even, bless my soul, Curtis Grant. So when word came out Sunday that there was indeed a commitment, it was big news.
Excitement turned to puzzlement when the name actually got out, though. Nobody'd ever heard of Mason Thomas. Seriously. Seems the coaches had been recruiting him silently for quite some time, and nobody knew it. In fact, Thomas was reportedly a silent UVA commit since January 7, or even earlier - according to someone who works at Kempsville - and still nobody knew it. Or almost nobody. It was a they-must-know-what-they're-doing moment, since the numbers were getting awfully crunchy. It was, of course, before Jordan Lomax uprooted himself for Iowa, which was probably one of those things the coaches were expecting when they took Thomas's commitment.
Thomas was committed to ODU for about a month, and truthfully has the full profile - offers, ratings, and all - of a I-AA talent. Our last profile, Demetrious Nicholson, was the state POY; Thomas, from just across town, was no higher than second-team all-District. It's not all two stars and I-AA - at least one writer ranked him the #9 player in Hampton Roads, above Ross Burbank and Tech signee Dewayne Alford, and just behind Kameron Mack.
You have to assume the coaches agree. If Thomas was a March or April commit, he might be looked at as taking up space. Someone that the coaches liked early, offered early, and jumped at the first scholarship he got. Sometimes that's a road to disaster - the first five commitments of the 2006 class came in June '05, and three of them had zero other offers and all three of them, I don't even think any of them even made it to UVA. The coaches took Mason Thomas at a time when scholarships were at their absolute most premium. A desperate need for defensive backs helps explain it, but there must be something about Thomas that the coaches just love - as much as they loved what they saw in someone like Jeremiah Hendy, whom they recruited until the eleventh hour. Plus, the only service that rates Thomas as a safety - his intended position - is the one that ranks him highest. (Not that high at all, but still.) Scout and ESPN evaluate him as a receiver.
Still, how much playing time can there be in the future? Rodney McLeod, Corey Mosley, and Dom Joseph are entrenched at the top three safety spots. Also the only three safety spots, at least in February. Freshman safeties scare the everloving bejeebers out of me, but if we're gonna use four over the course of the season - which seems perfectly likely - at least one will be a freshman. Who exactly is ticketed for safety is a bit hazy, but I don't think any of them are the real blue-chippers of the class. Guys like Anthony Harris and Kameron Mack - talented yes; surefire stars, no. Thomas isn't likely to be as physically talented as his competition at the position, but safety requires at least as much brains as brawn, so he's as likely as anyone to end up playing a role.
I did promise a recruiting board update and here it is. It's loaded with additions. The staff has locked and loaded the offer gun and is spraying it in all directions. If I put on here every prospect that listed a UVA offer on every site it'd be three pages long; as I mentioned in the original post I limit it to players listed on multiple sites. Also, ones whose offer seems solid enough to commit to today, and there are some I left off because yes they have an offer but their eyes are obviously elsewhere.
You might also notice the addition of an extra column; someone decided there was room for a fourth recruiting site on the scene, so since they exist, why the hell not: I added a column for the rating from 24/7 Sports as well. Eventually it'll even have stars in it.
- Added OLB Mark Hall to orange. Recruiting profiles begin in June or Julyish, but for now, here's the basics on Hall: He plays linebacker and tight end for Green Run in Virginia Beach, the same place David Dean came from, and he's probably an OLB for UVA. I expect three stars across the board; I'd guess a 5.6 from Rivals and maybe a 77 or 78 from ESPN, though they're less predictable. Solid, solid pickup and a good way to start the class.
- Moved RB J.C. Coleman and LB Kwontie Moore from green to blue.
- Added WR Mario Nixon to blue.
- Added WR Eugene Lewis to green.
- Added ATH Corey Coleman, ATH Canaan Severin, DE Eli Harold, and S Alex Carter to yellow.
- Added ATH Germone Hopper to red.