Georgia Tech’s Charlie Thomas playing ‘the way that the whole team needs to play’

As Georgia Tech tries to rebound from a humbling shutout defeat against Ole Miss, Yellow Jackets wide receiver Malachi Carter had advice for his teammates – do what linebacker Charlie Thomas is doing.

“I think Charlie Thomas is a huge example of the way that the whole team needs to play,” Carter said Wednesday. “He’s got something about him. He’s always got energy.”

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Through three games, Thomas has been Tech’s top performer on defense and arguably on the entire team. While against an FCS opponent, he turned in a captivating effort against Western Carolina on Sept. 10 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. After sitting out the first half as a suspension for a targeting penalty incurred against Clemson, Thomas was in on eight tackles, two for loss (one sack), and an interception. That followed his standout play against the Tigers, when he totaled 10 tackles before he was ejected in the third quarter on the targeting penalty.

While the Tech defense overall continues to have difficulty slowing opponents – the Jackets rank tied for 113th in FBS in total defense, tied for 104th in scoring defense and tied for 106th in third-down efficiency defense – Thomas has been a bright spot in his fifth season.

“The thing about him is he’s developed into that,” Carter said. “I’ve kind of watched him become this player he is now on the field and off the field. I just think the way he carries himself is amazing, definitely something to look up to for a lot of the young guys. But Charlie Thomas is a huge example of the way this whole team should play.”

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Against Ole Miss on Saturday, Thomas had 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. Of the 10 tackles, seven were plays that gained 3 yards or fewer, an indication of his not only bringing down ballcarriers but also making effective plays for the Jackets defense.

“Just trying to be a pro,” Thomas said of his motivation. “For real. I really want to play this game longer than past this year, 10 more years. I just want to play this game forever, as long as I can, to be honest. I just want to keep being a better version of me every day.”

Thomas’ NFL potential has been recognized by the Senior Bowl, the premier pre-draft showcase game, which put him on its watch list before the season.

Tech’s challenge may not rise quite as high Saturday against Central Florida as it did against Ole Miss, but it will still be estimable. The Knights are tied for sixth nationally in total offense and run an up-tempo scheme like Ole Miss, which wore out the Jackets defense.

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As the team weathers a growing storm, the Jackets need Thomas’ play and leadership. He’s ready to provide both.

“Of course, everybody’s season isn’t going to start off how they want it to start off,” he said. “It takes leaders and guys to come together and just stay focused, and anything can happen from there.”

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