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Mitchell Thomas is a self-professed "hometown fan" of Alabama and grew
up with visions of playing for the Crimson Tide, but going through the
recruiting process has given him thoughts of breaking away from his roots.
"I just got back from camp at Florida a couple of weeks
ago," he said. "I really liked it down there a lot. I've been thinking a lot
about getting away from home, going off and starting somewhere new.
"They've got the nice campus, the big stadium and a lot
of tradition. The one thing about them is I want to watch the new coaching staff
to see what they do this year. But I liked what I saw from them at camp."
Thomas didn't get to actively participate in the Gators'
camp due to a lingering hamstring injury suffered during track season. But the
Florida staff made it clear they wanted him on hand to see how they operated.
"I wanted to be out on the field, but it was nice that
they wanted me there," he said.
Thomas plans to attend camps at Alabama and LSU later
this month. The Crimson Tide is one of six teams on his list of favorites to
have offered a scholarship. The others are Auburn, Florida, South Carolina,
Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.
LSU hasn't officially offered, but Thomas said the
Tigers have indicated that's a strong possibility after his camp appearance.
"Alabama has always had the edge since it's home and
all," he said. "But I'm really thinking hard about these other schools. LSU just
won the SEC and I've heard a lot of great things about them and their staff. I'm
excited about going down there. With South Carolina, I like coach (Lou) Holtz.
He seems like a fine man to play for. I want to visit there and see what the
campus and stadium is like."
Thomas said he pays close attention to the following
things when evaluating the schools on his list:
"First, I look at the head coach. Then my position
coach. I want to be very comfortable with the people I'm going to spend the next
four years around," he said. "Then I look at the stadium and other facilities. I
want to play somewhere with a big stadium, huge crowds. That really gets me
pumped up to play."
As a junior, Thomas (6-3, 212, 4.5) was a two-way star
for Smith's Station. As a running back, he rushed for 930 yards and 12
touchdowns on only 180 carries. Defensively, he recorded 75 tackles and four
He's expected to be a full qualifier, carrying a 3.5 GPA
and a 19 on his ACT.