After trying and failing to get out of his National Letter of Intent, it seems Matthew Thomas is going to end up in Tallahassee after all.
The five-star outside linebacker committed to Florida State on signing day, choosing the Seminoles over Georgia, Southern Cal and his hometown Miami Hurricanes. Thomas regretted his decision, asking head coach Jimbo Fisher to let him out of his scholarship.
From the Miami Herald in early May:
“What happened was on Signing Day [was] I wasn’t sure who I wanted to sign with. I had issues with different schools. But when I told my mom I didn’t want to sign with anybody and wait and give it a few days she said I couldn’t do that. She said, ‘FSU is a good school – pick them. It’s close to home.’ I wasn’t agreeing with it. But I felt like I was being disrespectful to her if I didn’t sign. So I made her happy.”
“I’ve been in Miami all my life. Georgia needs linebackers. It’s a big program. I have family in Georgia. USC, growing up I never thought I would have an opportunity that big. I just want to go have fun and play football.”
Florida State didn’t budge on releasing Thomas from the scholarship, meaning that if he left the school, it would effectively be a transfer. He would have to sit out the upcoming season and likely have to pay his own way for a year wherever he landed.
“You’d get into a situation where if you release him, then people would be doing that every year,” FSU AD Randy Spetman told the Tallahassee Democrat Tuesday at the ACC spring meetings. "We would be more than happy to release someone if there is a compelling reason."
But after rumors circulating earlier this week that Thomas was going to land at USC, the Booker T. Washington High School star told Warchant.com that he would indeed be reporting this Saturday along with the rest of his freshman class:
"After meeting with coach Fisher and his staff and gathering all the information I have decided to honor my commitment to Florida State," Thomas said in a statement released to Warchant.com. "I also want to be close to my family and I want be part of what they are building at Florida State. I'm looking forward to winning games at Florida State and building towards my future."
After Notre Dame chose not to release five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes from his NLI, Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples called the document “the worst contract in American sports.” The agreement guarantees that a player must enroll at a school for a year, regardless of whether a coach leaves in the offseason. In return, the player cannot be recruited by other schools. In college basketball, many top recruits never sign the document, knowing that teams will keep spots open for them until they enroll. While Fisher and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly took some flak for their decisions not to release the blue-chip recruits, you can be certain coaches across the country breathed a sigh of relief that the NLI retains some value in its current form.
Thomas is one of two five-star recruits in Florida State’s tenth-ranked class of 2013. Fisher’s team will be looking for to defend its ACC Championship following last year’s 12-2 effort that included a victory in the Orange Bowl over Northern Illinois.
Here are some of Thomas' senior year highlights: