One of Clemson’s top linebacker targets, Drake Thomas, is almost ready to narrow the field of close to two dozen schools that have offered him a scholarship.
“I’d say I’m trying to make it through May right now, maybe midway through May, release my top schools, narrow it down and then commit shortly after,” Thomas told The Clemson Insider at the Elite 11 Regional camp in Charlotte last weekend.
Clemson is among the main group of schools involved in Thomas’s recruitment.
The Wake Forest (N.C.) Heritage standout says he is being recruited hard by defensive coordinator Brent Venables and area recruiter Robbie Caldwell.
“Me and coach Venables talk all the time, and then coach Caldwell is my area recruiter, so he talks to me as well,” Thomas said. “So, I’m talking to them consistently.”
What is the Tigers’ message to Thomas?
“That I’m a perfect fit for Clemson, and I have an opportunity to come in and make an impact,” he said.
Venables has told Thomas that he loves the way he plays as a physical, smart and instinctive linebacker.
On the flip side, Thomas loves the way Venables coaches.
“He’s one of the best in the country, and he’s really high-energy,” Thomas said. “I just like his coaching style. When you watch him on the sidelines, he’s energetic and he’s pumped up all the time and he’s ready to coach football.”
Thomas received an offer from Clemson last August before visiting for the Florida State game last season. He returned to campus for the Tigers’ elite junior day in late January.
The Tigers have made Thomas feel welcome at Clemson.
“I think it’s definitely like a family feel,” he said. “That’s something they preach. And being comfortable there, them bringing me in and treating me like I’m family. So, that’s something that stands out to me.”
Thomas cited Virginia Tech, NC State, Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss as the other schools he’s communicating most frequently with.
He visited Tennessee recently and wants to return to several schools before rendering his decision.
“I’m hoping to get down to Alabama and maybe go back to Tennessee, maybe Ole Miss, hopefully Clemson, maybe even Virginia Tech too,” he said.
What is Thomas looking for in his school of choice?
“Just a familiar feeling, family feel, somewhere that wins football games and good academically, too,” he said.
Clemson fans don’t have to worry about the Tigers making his upcoming list of top schools.
“They will be on the list, I would say,” he said.
As a junior last season, Thomas racked up 112 tackles to go with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
In addition to Clemson, Thomas holds offers from Alabama, NC State, Ole Miss, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, among others. He is ranked by Rivals as the No. 18 prospect in the Tar Heel State and No. 17 inside linebacker nationally.