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Concord's Thomas commits to Purdue

Jaron Thomas said the fit at Purdue University just felt right.

Thomas, a senior-to-be for the Concord High football team, committed to continue his academic and athletic career at Purdue University, beginning in the fall of 2025.

And he didn’t waste any time in doing it.

Thomas visited the campus last weekend and received an offer on Sunday. He committed to the Boilermakers on Sunday night when he returned home.

“Purdue just fits me,’’ Thomas said on Monday. “I love their coaching staff and they really seem to understand me. I believe they’ll be able to coach me up and make me a better player.’’

Thomas was an All-Area selection by The Elkhart Truth both offensively and defensively after leading a young Concord team in 2023.

He finished with 1,207 yards rushing for the Minutemen, while scoring 14 touchdowns – despite being the target of area defenses. As a linebacker for coach Craig Koeler, Thomas totaled 77 tackles.

That versatility was something Thomas dealt with during his recruiting process, as both Western Michigan and Ball State wanted him to play linebacker in college.

But Purdue and running back coach Lamar Conard – a 1996 graduate of Elkhart Central High School – wanted Thomas as a running back.

The MAC schools wanted me as a linebacker, but I’d much prefer to play in the backfield,’’ Thomas said. “There are pros and cons to both, but I enjoy carrying the football.’’

Running the ball is something Purdue did very well in 2023, as the Boilermakers led the Big Ten Conference in rushing under Conard’s guidance.

The success on the ground in included back-to-back 300-yard rushing games, the first time Purdue has accomplished that since 1968.

“Coach Conard and I have talked a lot and I really like and trust him,’’ Thomas said. “Then I got to meet the whole staff over the weekend and they it feels like they’re similar to me.

“I also grew up watching Purdue football on television. I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m going to play on the big stage there. I’m excited to take in the atmosphere at a Big Ten game and let everything sink in.’’

But while football will be a part of his college experience, Thomas made sure to say that it wasn’t the only reason he chose Purdue.

“Purdue is a really great degree to get,’’ Thomas said. “I’ll be happy to get there for my education too ... that will be very important to me.’’

With a GPA of 3.5 at Concord, Thomas also received offers from Yale, Army, Navy and Air Force, in addition to three teams in the MAC.

With his college selection complete, Thomas is looking forward to his senior season, while Koeler and the Minutemen return a number of key parts for 2024.

“I believe Concord Minutemen football will have a really big year,’’ Thomas said. “My focus now will be totally on the team and helping us win championships.’’

The Minutemen were 6-5 last season, playing with a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore as the team’s top receiver.

“We were really young last year and then had some injuries on top of it,’’ Thomas said. “But because so many young people played, we have that year under our belt and we have a lot of experience back.’’

Thomas knows when he trades in the Concord green-and-white for the black-and-gold of Purdue, that there will be a lot more eyes on him.

“Just earlier this year I was watching Michigan in the National Championship game and next year I could be playing against them,’’ Thomas said. “It’s kinda crazy to think about.’’