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While there is going to be at least one change in the offensive staff at the University of Arkansas, it doesn’t appear that there are going to be any defections among recruits and no changes on the defensive side – something that is just fine for Texas safety James Thomas.
Thomas (6-0, 185, 4.45), who had 125 tackles, 5 sacks and 4 picks this season while leading La Marque to a 15-1 season and Class 4A Division II state title this season, is one of 17 prospects due in for official visits to the UA this weekend.
In addition to the aforementioned tackles, interceptions and sacks, Thomas also forced four fumbles, recovered three of them and took one to the house for a touchdown while playing an aggressive style of defense that Razorback defensive coordinator Reggie Herring favors.
“I am an aggressive player who I think will fit right in with what they are trying to do up there,” Thomas said. “Coach Herring really gets after his guys and I like that. I want to work hard and be pushed and not settle for anything.”
Thomas appears ready to join what is now a list of 19 commitments Arkansas has now headed into its biggest recruiting weekend of the season with all of those still appearing on board as of Monday despite one coach taking another position elsewhere.
That’s former Springdale High School coach and former Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn becoming the new assistant head coach and co-offensive co-ordinator at Tulsa sparking speculation that Arkansas might lose a few of the players he recruited.
Springdale kicker Alex Tejada, Shiloh Christian wideout Crosby Tuck and Tulsa standouts Tim Dial and Michael Harris and Monticello center Seth Oxner – all players had Malzahn had a hand in landing - or their parents all confirmed afternoon that they were still solidly committed to Arkansas.
"I happy that Coach Malzahn is happy, but everyone has to do the right thing for themselves," Tejada said. "I am still happy with Arkansas, still committed to Arkansas and I am going to sign with Razorbacks.”
Thomas was supposed to take an official visit to Oklahoma State this past weekend, but weather kept that from happening. He also has one scheduled for Missouri on Jan. 26-28, but it could all be over this weekend and no other visits needed.
“It was a real great season for them and I have been very impressed with everything about Arkansas’ program,” Thomas said. ‘I can’t wait to get up there. It is appears to be to just the situation that I am looking for. I don’t know if I will need to take those other visits after this because I pretty sure it’s the right place for me.”
Thomas and his La Marque downed Waco High 34-14 in the championship game on Friday, Dec. 22.
“We had a lot of things that could have torn us apart, but we stayed together and stayed focus,” Thomas said. “We had one guy get shot and our quarterback was busted for possession of drugs and we had a lot of injuries, but we just kept fighting through it.”
Thomas believes he has some strengths that will help him make the transition from high school to college.
“I have good awareness and good vision and I think they have very good knowledge of the game and watch a lot of video so I am prepared to play,” Thomas said. “I used to play quarterback and I think that helps me know what a quarterback is trying to take advantage of. I think I have also good overlapping skills and I have great willpower and am very determined and never give up no matter how bad it looks.”
Thomas knows there is an opportunity for a safety to come in and play next season at Arkansas, which has had a solid tradition of sending top safety prospects to the NFL.
“I want to go to the NFL and the fact that Arkansas has sent a lot of safeties there gets me excited about maybe being one of the next ones to go,” Thomas said. “I think Arkansas might be the place to help get me there.”