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Photo by Brandon Brown
Though Rivals lists Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar three-star Tavion Thomas as an athlete, the 6-2, 227-pounder likely projects as a running back at the next level. Thomas has not visited Ann Arbor yet, but explained he’d like to soon.
“Yeah, I’d love to make it up there sometime,” he said. “Me and my coach have actually been trying to figure out a time to get up there.”
After former U-M running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley left to take the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars in January, Jay Harbaugh was called upon to fill the void, and has been the Wolverine coach most frequently in contact with Thomas. Though the 6-2, 227-pounder hasn’t met the younger Harbaugh yet, he revealed how anxious he is to do so.
“He’s a great coach,” Thomas said. “I like him a lot, and really just can’t wait until I meet him in person.”
Growing up just over 70 miles from Columbus, Thomas surprisingly revealed that Ohio State actually was not his favorite team growing up.
“I was an Oregon Duck when I was younger,” he said with a laugh. “I loved watching [former Oregon running backs] LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount. I just liked them so much because they were so fast.”
While James was more known for his speed in Eugene, Blount was actually more known for his bruising, smash-mouth running style. Thomas’ current body makeup is incredibly similar to that of his childhood idol, as Blount stood 6-2 and weighed 240 pounds during the 2009 season, his last at Oregon.
Possessing such an imposing stature allowed the Ohio native to post impressive stats this past season at Dunbar, as Thomas carried 137 times for 1,606 yards and 17 touchdowns, equating out to 160.6 yards per game and 11.7 per carry. The bruising back also showed his versatility by adding 93 receiving yards and a score through the air, while accumulating nine tackles on defense.
Thomas’ performance has earned him offers from some of the country’s most elite schools, but he explained that Kentucky, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas are a few of the schools currently pursuing him the hardest. Michigan is also heavily on his mind.
“I watched Michigan growing up a lot too, even though it’s obviously a rivalry here in Ohio,” he said. “I really don’t know that much about them now, and that’s why I want to go see them.”
Throughout its history, Michigan has been known for nabbing players out of the state of Ohio who would eventually go on to become superstars. Potentially pulling Thomas out of Ohio State’s backyard would be yet another impressive feat.
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