May 25, 2008

Thomas feels connection with Nutt, Ole Miss

Mike Thomas knew Ole Miss was the school for him when he took an unofficial visit to Oxford in late April.

"I just needed more time," Thomas said.

So Thomas took visits to Auburn, LSU and Louisville. Rather than confusing him and backing him off his feelings for Ole Miss, the trips to the Plains, Baton Rouge and the horse racing capital of the world only solidified his hunch.

"They all have the same things," Thomas said. "Some are just bigger. I prayed about it. I just felt led to Ole Miss."

In other words, Thomas' decision to commit to Ole Miss Sunday was due to the way he felt about the people inside the Rebels' program and not necessarily due to the facilities those people use to do their jobs.

"I really like the coaches at Ole Miss," said Thomas, who became Ole Miss' fourth verbal commitment for the 2009 signing class. "They made me feel like a family member as well as a player. I told them on Tuesday. They were excited. I'm looking forward to getting on the field."

"He has talked to Coach (Houston) Nutt, Coach (Ron) Dickerson and Coach (Tracy) Rocker," Thomas' mother, Elaine Jackson, said. "We really have a connection with Coach Nutt."

Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 246-pound defensive end from Mobile (St. Paul's), Ala., joins Jackson, Miss., offensive tackle Emmanuel McCray, Corinth, Miss., defensive end/linebacker Markell Lee and Morristown, Tenn., linebacker Demarcus Knight on the Rebels' commitment list. Ole Miss is expected to sign a full compliment of 25 players in February.

"We're going to win some bowl games, for sure," Thomas said.

Thomas, who had 111 tackles and eight quarterback sacks as a junior, is expected to play strong-side defensive end at Ole Miss. However, he said Ole Miss safeties coach Kim Dameron hinted that the Rebels will look at him at a number of positions before necessarily settling in on one.

"When we were up there (in Oxford), they were talking about another position," Thomas said. "I might stand up at a linebacker position, like a striker position. They said they want to get me on the field, which I'm looking forward to."

Thomas also won't have to worry about the distance from home. The drive from Mobile to Oxford is a solid 5 -hour trip going north on Highway 45 through Meridian, Miss., and West Point, Miss., or six hours north through Hattiesburg, Miss., before hopping on I-65 north in Jackson. Thomas won't have to decide which route to take for long. Instead, his mother and two brothers will move to Mississippi with him.

"She's going to relocate," Thomas said. "She and my brothers are like my support system. They'll move to Oxford."




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