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JUCO dual-threat QB Pat Thomas on the Texas radar
The Horns are continuing to evaluate quarterbacks.
The Texas Longhorns appear to be in strong position to land USC Trojans graduate transfer quarterback Max Wittek, but that didn't stop the staff from reaching out recently to Georgia Military College dual-threat passer Pat Thomas.
In other words, it looks like there is a possibility that play caller and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson could bring in two more quarterbacks this fall after neither sophomore Tyrone Swoopes nor senior Miles Onyegbule looked capable of running the team this fall based on their respective performances in the spring game after combining for three interceptions and taking eight sacks.
A two-star prospect by 247Sports, Thomas is a 6'4, 185-pounder ranked as the No. 3 junior college dual-threat quarterback, the No. 13 junior college player in the state of Georgia, and No. 238 among all prospects in junior college. The fact that he could rank so highly among players at his position and so low overall illustrates just how thin this junior college quarterback class is in 2014.
And Thomas wasn't even supposed to be on the market this long. He signed with UAB in December after committing several days before, but was released from his letter of intent after a coaching change. After redshirting his first season at GMC, he has three years to use his remaining three seasons of eligibility.
He currently holds offers from South Alabama and Troy and is looking to pick one up from Louisville after taking an official visit to the school last weekend. He told Orangebloods.com that the Cardinals are his top school right now and that the Horns would need to move quickly with him if the interest is sincere.
However, if Louisville is slow to extend an offer, that could lengthen the timetable, which obviously has a drop-dead date of early June when the first summer session starts.
Statistically, Thomas threw 17 touchdown passes compared to six interceptions, with an interception rate of 2.9%, a little bit on the high side, but nothing that merits a ton of red flags. His completion percentage of just over 53 suggests some problems with accuracy at times, but his overall yards per attempt of 8.2 is a good number.
On film, it's a bit hard to see why Thomas isn't ranked as a three-star prospect, as his delivery is quick and his mechanics don't appear to have any glaring, obvious flaws. With a whippy delivery, there's some nice zip from Thomas on slant routes over the middle and he also demonstrates the ball placement to make sure his receivers are the only ones with a chance to catch the ball, throwing a back-shoulder pass on one play and another ball down the sideline to a leaping receiver in tight coverage.
Additionally, he consistently shows the ability to throw touch passes down the seam over defenders -- his mechanics aren't flat like Swoopes, so he can alter his trajectory when necessary.
At the college level, he may have to increase his level of concern for linebackers undercutting some of the inside breaking routes he manages to fit into fairly small windows at Georgia Military College. If he's not quite reckless at times, he is certainly confident in his arm strength and accuracy.
There also doesn't appear to be a high level of sophistication in his ability to go through his reads -- he typically knows where he's going before the snap and doesn't move defenders with his eyes or hit his second or third progression often.
As a runner, Thomas gained less than 200 yards on the ground last season and it doesn't appear that the zone read game was a big part of the offense, but he does throw well on the run and has a nice burst when he keeps the ball. Extremely lanky at 185 pounds, he's not going to be breaking many tackles at the next level.
The fact that he redshirted a season is both a positive and a negative -- it kept him from gaining the game reps that would have him further along on his developmental trajectory had he played in 2012, but it also preserved another season of eligibility that makes him a more valuable recruit because he does have three seasons left.
Is there a chance that the interest in Thomas is a sign that the coaches are worried about Wittek choosing another school or failing to graduate? At this point, it seems like the bigger concern is making sure that there are multiple healthy quarterbacks on campus who are capable of playing this fall.
The offer list and rankings of Thomas may put that into question, but he does look further along than Swoopes mechanically and has enough athleticism to make some plays in the running game and on the move, so it may be worth the risk if something happens with Wittek or the staff feels like Thomas is a necessity even with Wittek.
Myles Turner would fit just fine at Texas
Contrary to what one certain Daily Texan article says, Myles Turner would fit perfectly with the 2014 Longhorn bunch.
A Daily Texan column titled, "Why five-star recruit Myles Turner should not choose Texas" stirred up a mini-online controversy on Wednesday afternoon.
The column, which suggests that the five-star prospect should choose a different school because of the Longhorn's weak home atmosphere, dim spotlight, and lame-duck head coach was shared vigorously by members of the Kansas faithful, many of whom tagged Turner in their posts and may have been responsible for a tweet where he emphasized how stressful this week will be.
Some excerpts from the story are below:
The Erwin Center is devoid of a deafening atmosphere. Even if the crowd is relatively large, seats almost always look empty because of the size of the building. Wouldn’t Turner rather play at Allen Fieldhouse, the place ESPN ranked as the loudest stadium in college basketball? Heck, even SMU’s newly renovated Moody Coliseum offers a better basketball experience than the Erwin Center.
While it would be pointless to try and compare the Frank Erwin Center to the Allen Fieldhouse or Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Longhorn fans always seem to get a bad rap for basketball attendance. Texas will never have the tradition that Kansas has in basketball (they invented the game), but to suggest that it is 'devoid of a deafening atmosphere' is simply incorrect.
When Texas is good at basketball, they have made Frank Erwin Center one of the most dangerous arenas for opposing teams in the entire country. History shows us that Texas has done it before. The Runnin' Horns era and the early 2000's are prime examples of the Frank Erwin Center being a rowdy and raucous environment. Excitement brings in crowds. It did last season when Longhorn fans realized just how talented the preseason-8th-best-team-in-the-Big-12 was performing. It would grow exponentially with the addition of Myles Turner.
Looking for a fair comparison? I'd say Florida. Texas fans can do what Florida fans have done to create a notorious home-court advantage in the SEC. Last year was simply a reminder of the excitement Texas basketball could bring to the Forty Acres. Next season, with the potential addition of Myles Turner, it could be standing room only at the Frank Erwin Center.
The Big 12 is deep, and one could even make the case that it was the best conference last year. But only Kansas was really ever a championship contender.
The Big 12 was one of the two toughest conferences in college basketball last season, and because its teams consist of more four-year players than one and dones, the peak of the conference still lies ahead. Texas basketball is a prime example of young guys who have the opportunity to grow into something special, but the Big 12 is a complete conference with some of the best coaches in the country. The conference sent seven teams to the tournament last year, and most didn't make it to the Sweet 16, including Kansas.
The difference between Kansas and a lot of their peer conference schools is that, while the Jayhawks will have to rebuild, most others have to fill gaps and build around a set core. If there was a year where a non-Kansas team could change the perception of Big 12 basketball, it's next year.
Rick Barnes is a good coach. But would people rather play for him than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self or SMU’s Larry Brown? Turner will likely turn pro after one year, and, while talented, his game is in need of considerable molding. Barnes is not the best man to do that. Krzyzewski, Self and Brown all have considerable experience preparing players for the NBA.
Rick Barnes has groomed twelve NBA players during his tenure at Texas, and while that number may not be crazy impressive, the names on the list are. Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tristan Thompson, and Royal Ivey highlight a number of high-caliber NBA players developed in Austin by Barnes. While Coach K, Bill Self, and Larry Brown's names resonate at a different level, the notion that Rick Barnes struggles with developing players is also incorrect.
Just read this glowing Daily Texan report written by the same author from exactly three months ago:
The former five-star center was a flop in his fist year. He was a higher rated recruit than Oklahoma State superstar Marcus Smart, but Ridley averaged just four points and four rebounds as a freshman, shooting an abysmal 33 percent from the line. For reference, Shaq shot 42 percent in his worst season. Ridley even struggled to catch the ball. But this year, Ridley could be the most improved player in college basketball. He is averaging more than 10 points per game to go with seven rebounds. He’s on the floor 54 percent more often than last year. He’s respectable at the charity stripe. His field goal percentage has gone up, and he’s blocking more shots. He’s more effective than former Longhorn center Dexter Pittman ever was, and it is just halfway through his sophomore campaign.
Rick Barnes revamped a player, who had survived high school and AAU hoops by existing as a dominating impenetrable mass, through coaching that helped him improve in every aspect of his game. Barnes often gets criticized for being a lame-duck coach, but what he and Texas strength coach Todd Wright implement in workout and coaching programs has had long-term benefits for Texas basketball.
Myles Turner might commit somewhere else, but it's impossible to say that he fits into a program better somewhere other than at Texas. With the returning core of freshman, the leadership of Jon Holmes, and the necessity of a game-changer, it's hard not to call the fit perfect.
Not to mention, a little research into the author of the above Daily Texan column revealed a photo of the author with someone in Kansas Jayhawks gear. Excellent troll, sir.
Turner will announce his commitment next Wednesday live on ESPNU.