As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest Florida recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
Kardell Thomas considering Florida
It will be interesting to see the final count of scholarship offers for Kardell Thomas.
The 2019 offensive lineman has seven right now. He may not double that by the time he signs, which is fine.
Thomas has already made his commitment and seems content with his options. But in this day and age, the nation’s No. 1 guard should hold more than a dozen offers — even heading into his junior season.
Multiple 5-star recruits for the Class of 2019 have 20-plus offers, but not Thomas. He’s the No. 12 player nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings, yet landed just two offers this past spring.
He’s not a problem child or overrated. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Thomas may be the best lineman to come out of the high school ranks in the last five years and most college coaches won’t even touch him.
That’s what happens when you’re an LSU commit from Baton Rouge, La.
“It’s not easy to recruit me,” Thomas said. “Every store I walk into is LSU, LSU, LSU. It’s right there.”
It’s no surprise that most of his offers are heavy hitters. Only powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas have the balls to pursue a 5-star recruit who calls Death Valley his hometown.
But Florida — one of two recent offers for Thomas — may be the only school with any real chance of changing his mind. Not necessarily because he visited UF for the weekend of Friday Night Lights, but why.
“Brad Davis is the reason I came,” Thomas said.
Davis is one of three new hires by Gators coach Jim McElwain, and all have made an impact on the recruiting trial. Last month Davis landed a commitment from 4-star guard Curtis Dunlap, who kick-started Florida’s summer recruiting run and will be the first UF signee from IMG Academy.
But the bond Davis has with Thomas is different.
“It’s embedded,” Thomas said.
Davis, 37, was born and raised in Baton Rouge. He coached at Thomas’ high school, Southern University Lab School, from 2003-04 before moving up into the college ranks. Davis knows dozens of people within his inner circle and offered Thomas on May 10.
“Most coaches come in and suck up to me,” Thomas said. “Coach Davis came at me straight up and was like, ‘I want you and you’re coming to play for me.’ I liked that from the jump. When he first saw me, he told me that.
“Ever since then I’ve liked that attitude he has toward me. Him being from where me and my parents are from, I had to come check (Florida) out. Everybody around (Baton Rouge) he likes him. He’s a great coach.”
Florida’s 2018 class may have its best offensive line haul in years if Davis lands his top remaining targets. Could he follow that by flipping Thomas from LSU? Seems impossible, but don’t tell him that.
“He’s very confident,” Thomas said of Davis. “We talk every day. When I call him he’ll tell me, ‘Look, You know what I’m bout. It’s a Baton Rouge thing.’ We got this slang that we say and we have good conversations.
“He’s a real down-to-earth guy and I like him. When the O-line coach comes at you like that, it’s definitely showing you how bad he wants you. So Florida does have a shot. I’m not going to lie about it.”
Thomas’ parents accompanied him on his trip to Gainesville and he feels they’d support him attending Florida.
“They would have to,” Thomas said, “coming somewhere like this where everything is good and you don’t have to worry about anything. They liked Florida, too. It was my first time and I liked everything.
“Coach Mac is great. He has a reputation of putting the best players in the field, no matter how young. I liked that. I look good in blue and orange, so it was a great experience. I’ll be back for the LSU game.”
Who will Thomas be rooting for when UF hosts his hometown Tigers?
“I’m going to be neutral. That’s all I can say,” he said. “I’m still an LSU commit, but I’m looking at everything else right now and I like the schools that I’m looking at.
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