All it took was a simple hand gesture for Briarcrest football coach Brian Stewart to realize that he had someone special on his hands in offensive tackle Omari Thomas.
“I remember he was a freshman and we were lined up to run a counter,” Stewart said. “And he turns around and looks at the running back, pats his hip, and says ‘get on my hip and come on.’
“When you’ve got a kid that’s a freshman and he’s saying ‘follow me,’ that’s pretty impressive.”
Stewart didn’t have to search too far back in his memory bank for that story; the practice took place just two football seasons ago. Thomas — all 6’4″ and 307 pounds of him — is just now getting to the end of his 10th-grade school year.
Which makes last week’s recruiting developments all the more impressive. In the span of a few days, the class of 2020 standout picked up offers from three of the nation’s best and most storied programs, Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
It’s not like the rest of the schools on his list are slouches either; Ole Miss, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma are some of the many schools that would love to see him run out onto the field on Saturday afternoons. In short, it’s a good time to be Omari Thomas.
“It was all surprise,” he said. “It’s really a blessing. I had been getting some big offers and I knew if I just kept working … bigger schools would come. And they came. It just so happens they all came in one week.
“Georgia was the first offer and then the day after I went on a visit to Alabama and they offered. Then Ohio State came. I was really happy.”
According to the latest 24/7 Sports sports, Thomas is the 42nd ranked player nationally in his class, the ninth-best offensive tackle and the second-best in Tennessee behind only Knoxville Catholic’s Bryn Tucker.
Thomas is also part of a stellar group of Memphis linemen who are heading into their junior seasons; Marcus Henderson of MUS, Freedom Prep’s Chris Morris and Ray Curry of White Station are all ranked in the top 11 in Tennessee.
Stewart, though, is confident his guy is the cream of that bumper crop.
“He has a lot of intangibles and that’s why those schools are successful because those are the kind of kids the recruit,” he said. “Any time you you’re that big, you’re that fast and can move like he can … that’s just an impressive young man.”