BEAVERTON, Ore. — Sam Pittman is having a great day today. That’s because he now has his left tackle.
That’s been the go-to line for Pittman down the home stretch of recruiting Pace Academy offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. The nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle chose Georgia on Saturday evening during ESPNU’s broadcast of Nike’s all-star “The Opening” prospect showcase in Oregon.
The Bulldogs was the choice over two other finalists in Clemson and Notre Dame. Thomas becomes the fourth commitment to Georgia with a rating of at least four stars over the last week. Thomas becomes the 15th member of the Class of 2017 at Georgia.
And he’s now Pittman’s left tackle.
“The last times I have been up to visit Georgia there has always been Coach Sam Pittman has always been saying ‘I am feeling really good today but I would be feeling even better if I got my left tackle’ whenever we hung out,” Thomas said.
Thomas fulfills a major priority for Georgia as the top-rated offensive lineman in the state this year. His decision now gives the Bulldogs four very large offensive line commitments to protect freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and senior commitment Jake Fromm over the coming years. Thomas, who lines up at the 6-foot-5 mark and weighs 320 pounds, is rated as the No. 49 prospect in the nation for 2017.
The Bulldogs didn’t get enough top-rated offensive tackles in the 2016 signing class, but now they are poised to load up with Thomas and the previous commitment of 6-foot-6, 319-pound D’Antne Demery of Brunswick. Both of those tackles were chosen to compete at Nike’s invitation-only elite prospect camp this week which features 166 of the nation’s top recruits.
Thomas has been considered a strong lean to Georgia for quite some time. He made it clear back in May that Georgia was going to be the team to beat for his services at the next level, but planned to wait until the fall to make that final decision.
He just saw everything he needed at Georgia and felt no need to wait. The ability to make his decision on a national ESPNU broadcast cinched it.
What made up his mind? His father, Andre Thomas, shared why the Bulldogs and Pitman stood out.
Andre Thomas said his son was sold on Pittman from the first meeting. That was important as Thomas was not deemed a recruiting priority by the previous staff. He was getting recruited harder by Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and Notre Dame.
“He said that he loved him,” Thomas said. “He said he loved his personality and how he communicates with him. He said it was just already the right feeling.”
Why Georgia? Thomas said his son chose five factors to drive his decision. Those were academics, fit, coaching staff, distance and playing time.
“Georgia had most of those qualities as the very top,” his father said. “They didn’t have the best out of all of those, but they had the most at the top compared to those other schools.”
The priorities in that hierarchy were academics and coaching staff. Thomas said he was committed to letting his son make that decision. He never pushed him, but actually shared that he liked Notre Dame the most at first.
“But the main thing here is it was his decision,” Andre Thomas said. “He was the one that was going to have to go to school and play football for four years.”
Thomas and his family sat down every day and hashed out his decision. They finally reached the conclusion that Georgia was the best fit for him about a month ago.
“We didn’t establish a second team for Andrew,” his father said. “There wasn’t another school which finished right behind. There was just Georgia.”
The family was proud to support their son on Sunday. They showed up at Nike’s headquarters already decked out in Georgia gear.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.