Andrew Thomas, the state of Georgia’s top offensive lineman for 2017, visited UGA on Sunday for three-plus hours.
It was just another trip for his dad, but Thomas’ mother and sister made their first UGA visits. This marked the fifth visit for Thomas since his first to UGA’s “Dawg Night” camp under Mark Richt in 2014.
That trek came before he found it hard to stay away from his grandmother Annie Thomas’ fried chicken. He’s an athlete, but the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder makes an exception for that on his training table.
“Can’t say no to Grandma’s chicken,” Thomas said.
Thomas is rated as the No. 4 player in Georgia this fall. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Could he say no to UGA? Thomas (Pace Academy / Atlanta) quickly confirmed where UGA stands after the visit.
“They were my leader before (earlier this spring) and they are still my leader,” Thomas said. “Right now I’m just trying to visit other schools and get a feel for each school before I make a decision.”
He’s trying to figure out the timing of his decision with his parents and coaches.
“My plan when I was a sophomore was to wait until signing day and do the whole cap thing and choose a hat,” Thomas said. “But right now I’m just trying to figure out what school I want to go to and I feel like if I know, then I may come out public with it. But I’m trying and my goal is to at least take some officials first before I make a decision. But if it comes up on me this summer, then I may do it then also. It just depends.”
The senior is rated as the nation’s No. 8 offensive tackle for 2017 and the No. 37 prospect overall. If that choice remains UGA, he knows what type of reaction that will get from offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
“He’ll probably do a backflip,” Thomas said.
Thomas said UGA still continues to recruit him the hardest. He’s already thinking about scheduling his official visit.
“Georgia right now is complete,” Thomas said. “It has all the things I’m looking for in a college. So like with the other schools, I’m looking to compare and contrast them if they might have something better. Or Georgia might have something better. I am just trying to weigh my options right now.”
He felt it wasn’t realistic to expect one school to have the best of everything.
“I’m looking for which one has the best combination of all the things I’m looking at,” Thomas said.
His answer as to what he likes best about UGA right now is layered. It is the business program. It is his relationship with Pittman. It is the playing opportunity and also the school’s location.
Thomas really likes his chance to play early next fall at UGA, but he will not enroll early. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Pittman has made it clear to him the starting tackles are seniors and the depth chart at UGA has set up well for him to play early.
“I understand that you have to work hard and be prepared and be ready,” Thomas said. “But if I have the opportunity then I would definitely love to start as a freshman. Because it is not done that often at left tackle.”
Thomas felt UGA also sets up as the best place to play right away. His family even grew up Bulldog fans. He also felt his father’s favorite school along his recruiting process would be UGA. That was evident after an earlier visit.
“When he came up for the spring game, he really liked Georgia and felt like it would be the perfect place for me,” Thomas said. “But I just wanted my mom and my sister to get up there and go see it so we could talk about it.”
Georgia impressed the family this time because, on a previous visit, Thomas wanted to know how he’d maintain his faith as a player in the program. So UGA had Athens United Fellowship of Christian Athletes minister Thomas C. Settles III speak to him today.
Thomas described him as a team chaplain. That’s also the title on his Settles’ Twitter bio. Settles is also the pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Athens.
“Getting to know the chaplain today and things like that was big,” Thomas said. “Because religion is a great priority in my family. They handled that well. It definitely helped Georgia out when they showed me that. … They never said anything to me about the chaplain, but it shows they definitely are thinking about me and trying to make sure my parents feel where I go that I will be taken care of with things of that nature.”
There’s also his Pace teammate. Trey Blount, a UGA commit, making sure he knows he’d fit in nicely between the hedges.
“He’s always texting and talking to me about Georgia,” Thomas said. “He brings up a national championship and things like that. He is definitely recruiting me hard.”
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