Deontre Thomas announced his commitment to the Huskers on April 30, 2016 — his birthday.
Thomas announced his commitment on the "Legends Radio Show" on ESPN 590 AM. "I'm gonna be a Cornhusker," Thomas said.
It took less than a month for the Huskers to bring Thomas on board. NU extended him an offer on April 5. Thomas made his first visit to Lincoln less than two weeks later, attending the Husker spring game on April 16.
By the end of the month, Thomas was ready to make his decision. A few days before making his pick, he announced five finalists — Nebraska, Michigan, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Arizona State. The Wolverines were the primary competition as the only other school he visited during the spring, but he told The World-Herald that UM wanted him to wait on committing so they could evaluate other prospects.
Michigan’s attempt to slow-play him became Nebraska’s advantage, and as The World-Herald’s Sam McKewon wrote, “It’s never a bad thing to beat Michigan.”
Thomas is a consensus three-star prospect (ESPN hasn’t yet ranked him).
Thomas had 64 tackles, including eight for loss and six sacks, as a junior in 2015.
His high school coach, Jeremy Dombeck, told The World-Herald that Thomas’ technique is what sets him apart. Thomas weighed just 230 pounds as a sophomore, so he learned how to use his hands and stay low against bigger guys. Thomas now measures 6-foot-3, 265 pounds but hasn’t lost the skills he needed at the smaller size.
“He plays with great leverage and better explosion,” Dombeck said. “He’s talented. He has size and speed, but he got to this point by working hard. He busts his butt in the weight room. It’s good to see him have that kind of success.”
Thomas became the Huskers’ eighth commit in the 2017 class and the first defensive lineman. He’s also the third from within the 500-mile radius. He’s the first defensive tackle for Nebraska since the 2015 class; the Huskers went without a DT in 2016. He’s also the first player to commit to John Parrella since he joined the staff in February.
“Coach Parrella is really energetic,” Thomas said. “I've got a coach who's going to push me and get me where I need to go.”
Parrella made an in-home visit with Thomas and his family on Jan. 12, the first day after the dead period. That was important as Thomas was starting to pick up interest from other schools, namely Notre Dame. But Thomas appears locked in with the Huskers and will take his official visit the weekend of Jan. 20.
Thomas would be the first player from Oklahoma to sign with the Huskers since Jalin Barnett in 2015 and the first defensive player to join the Huskers from the Sooner State since Phillip Dillard in 2005.
After Thomas' radio announcement of his commitment, he posted the following video on Twitter:
Photo: MUSTANG HIGH SCHOOL
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