April 24, 2008

Weekend visitor eager to see Ole Miss

Mike Thomas has a date to his prom Friday night.

On Saturday, Thomas has a date with Houston Nutt and maybe, just maybe, with a big piece of his future.

The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Mobile, Ala., native will leave the Port City around 6 a.m. Saturday. When he gets to Oxford, he's going to get a tour of the Ole Miss campus, check out the Rebels' football facilities and meet with Nutt. On Sunday, Thomas will meet with Ole Miss defensive line coach Tracy Rocker.

"I'm looking forward to it," Thomas said.

Ole Miss offered Thomas a scholarship about two weeks ago, and since then, Thomas has been talking to Rebel assistant coach Ron Dickerson Jr., researching the school, the football program and Oxford. So far, even though it's all sight unseen, Thomas likes what he's learning.

"I know they have great academics," Thomas said. "It's a prestigious school. The football program is on the rise. I'm leaning real hard towards Ole Miss."

Thomas has been hearing from Alabama, Auburn, Colorado, Southern Mississippi, Louisville, UAB and Duke in recent days. Start-up program South Alabama recently extended a scholarship offer. All of those schools, however, are well behind in the race for Thomas, who accumulated 111 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries for St. Paul's last season.

Thomas describes his playing style as "powerful and quick." Despite the possibility that he could grow into a defensive tackle, Thomas said his future is at the end position.

"I'm going to stay at end," Thomas said. "I might have the weight, but it's all muscle. I'm not soft at all."

Thomas' mother, Elaine Jackson, is also eagerly looking forward to her family's venture to north Mississippi this weekend. Ole Miss has Thomas' intended major, communicative disorders, and "that's the most important thing. We just want to see the environment, meet the coaches and see how comfortable he is. He'd be spending four years there."

Thomas would not rule out the possibility that he might commit to Ole Miss this weekend if the visit to Oxford meets his highest expectations. That's not necessarily the plan, he added, but he does intend to make his college choice known prior to the start of his senior season.

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