COPPERAS COVE As many people say, video games have an effect on today's youth.That's partially the case with Copperas Cove quarterback Orlando Thomas.
Growing up, the junior spent hours playing Electronic Arts Inc.'s NCAA Football. His team the University of Texas.That's always been my team, Thomas said. I love UT.
And Tuesday, Thomas officially made the Longhorns his team. Following news of his verbal commitment Feb. 13, Thomas spoke publicly for the first time about his pledge.
When asked what made Texas the right place for him, Thomas responded with a three-pronged answer.The family atmosphere at Texas, the connection I had with (head) coach (Mack) Brown and the players they already had there, he said.
Thomas was a late addition to the Longhorns' first Junior Day two weeks ago.
It was fun, Thomas said. When I went down there, everything there was completely different from every other school. It was big-time.
The University of Texas showed me a lot of love and I just felt like I wanted to go there.Thomas is one of the highest-recruited players in Cove's football history.
A former running back, Thomas moved to wide receiver his sophomore year. He only caught 18 passes for 297 yards, but caught the attention of colleges.
Former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and current co-offensive coordinate Major Applewhite recruited Thomas, with Applewhite staying on the recruitment after Muschamp left in December to become the head coach at Florida.
The Thomas family, originally from Baton Rouge, La., had a connection with Applewhite, a former All-American quarterback at Baton Rouge's Catholic High School.The Longhorns saw the athleticism Cove's opponents saw this past season.|
He has the intangible, which is the speed, the cuts and all of the elusiveness that goes with it, Cove head coach Jack Welch said.
Thomas ran for 1,317 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, moving to quarterback right before the season and earning all-district honors. He led Cove to a 9-2 record and was named to the Daily Herald's All-Area first team.
When he first started last year, he had never done it before, Welch said. And it goes to show you that with good instruction and paying attention and learning, who know what he'll do.
The multi-dimensional Thomas he also caught eight passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns last year is the prototypical athlete in the recruiting world. Some early projections have Thomas moving over to defense where he could end up as a cornerback.
I've just thought about playing anything, matter of fact it doesn't matter, he said. Wherever those coaches feel I can perform the best at, that's where I'm going to play. Even if it is quarterback.