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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Five-star offensive guard Kardell Thomas rates as the nation's No. 2 OG for 2019. He had a very good visit to UGA for the Kentucky game over the weekend.

UGA gained on LSU with 5-star junior Kardell Thomas over the weekend

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The first of a busy slate of recruiting updates this week will be a recap with 5-star Louisiana junior offensive guard Kardell Thomas

Kardell Thomas, an LSU commit, is from Louisiana. He’s one of the better high school players to interview. He attended the Georgia-Kentucky game on Saturday and said his trip was “all business.”

When the cameras were pointed in his direction, it seemed like every frame captured a young man with a lot on his mind. DawgNation asked him what was going through his mind on Saturday.

He said he was thinking. A lot.

“That was what I was doing,” Thomas said. “Every conversation I had with [Georgia offensive line coach] Sam Pittman on Saturday was strictly business. It wasn’t anything off the wall. No fluff. It was just strictly business and me thinking about everything he was saying.”

Thomas is a 5-star prospect from Louisiana. He committed to LSU in July 2016, and it will be a very tall order for any school to pry him away from spending his career in Death Valley.

Georgia will dig in and tug, though. And according to Thomas, it looks as if Pittman and the staff got off to a good start.

The 6-foot-4½, 345-pounder currently ranks on the 247Sports composite as the nation’s No. 2 guard and No. 17 overall prospect for 2019.

The trip to UGA gave him a lot to think about on that 8-hour drive back to Baton Rouge, he said.

“Honestly, man, I’m not even going to lie,” Thomas said. “I didn’t want to leave. I had a great time over at Georgia. It was amazing. Coach Pittman sat me down and we talked for at least 30 minutes before he had to go and get ready for the game.”

That made a dent.

Kardell Thomas-UGA recruiting
Five-star offensive guard Kardell Thomas ranks as the nation’s No. 17 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I was blown away from the time I got there until the time I left,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t expecting everything I witnessed at Georgia. From the fans to the coaches to the girl who was hosting me, it just seemed like everyone was full of energy. LSU is probably the only school that has been like that for me. Well, maybe LSU and Bama. There was just a certain vibe. Georgia and LSU have the same vibe to me.”

Does the vibe at UGA feel like the fit he has with LSU? He said it did  His family joined him on the trip and also was impressed.

“We told coach Pittman we are definitely taking an official,” Thomas said. “I just have to decide which one that I want to take first.”

Sam Pittman’s approach with 5-star Kardell Thomas

Georgia’s offensive line coach did nothing to dismiss his reputation as an elite recruiter.

“I connected with coach Pittman from the first time I got on campus,” Thomas said. “He met us at the doors and we were tight ever since. He talked to us before the game, at the game and after the game.’

Before Pittman arrived, the Bulldogs had signed 11 offensive line prospects who were rated among the nation’s top 10 at their position. Georgia signed four players like that in 2017.

Pittman is trying to fill the OL room in Athens with future NFL draft picks. Before he arrived, Cordy Glenn was the last Bulldogs offensive lineman to be selected during the first three rounds of an NFL draft.

“He just really made sure that he was showing me how much I was needed,” Thomas said. “He told me that ‘We are not going to have you come way out here just to send you back home without me getting to talk to you.’ It was a great time and a great trip.”

Pittman brought more than “we’d love to sign you” to the table. He shared his thoughts about the right guard position, the future of those NFL contracts at that spot and how Thomas would flourish in Athens.

Kardell Thomas-UGA recruiting
Kardell Thomas said he knows that he will play at an SEC school. Alabama, Georgia or LSU appear to be the top contenders. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“He told me about the pieces they were putting together,” Thomas said. “He really told me I could come in and start as a freshman and make big things happen for Georgia.”

Pittman has had more success recruiting elite OL prospects in his two full cycles than the Bulldogs had in the previous decade. They also could sign another four of the top 10 prospects at the position in 2018.

“He told me that I need a coach that will push me to the next level,” Thomas said. “Not so much that I will need a lot of pushing. But he will give me the tools I need to push me to the next level. He was telling me he was the coach to get me to be where I need to be. He told me I was going to make my money [in the NFL] at right guard because the draft is changing.”

Thomas said Pittman told him that right guards were going to start getting paid because of the elite defensive line talent in the NFL.

“They are still drafting tackles but now they realize they need to pay guards more because of everything that is getting torn down in the middle,” Thomas said. ” … We just had what [felt like] an hour-long conversation about things with me and my parents.”

Kardell Thomas sees a bright future at Georgia

Thomas has the perfect mindset. His father trains him. His goal is not just to sign with an SEC team. It is to be ready to play right away.

“I’m going to college ready,” Thomas said. “If I don’t go to college ready, then I feel like I will have failed myself with this great opportunity. I know this is all coming for me. So I have all this time now to prepare for it.”

He said he knows there will be great players ahead of him. They will be older and initially will know the scheme better. They will have another edge from being in the strength and conditioning program, too.

That stuff makes him work hard now.

“If you go to college ready to play right away then you have nothing to worry about,” Thomas said. “If I get to college and there are guys pushing their man 20 yards down the field, then I will just have to push them 30.”

Thomas was made aware of Ben Cleveland’s first start at Georgia. Pittman told him how Cleveland earned the right to play. He’s already aware of that culture at UGA.

“Ben came in and did an excellent job,” Thomas said. “That starter set a standard. He had to put himself above that standard. As long as I do that, I feel like I can come in ready and I’ll be good.”

Kardell Thomas-UGA recruiting
Kardell Thomas said that Georgia line coach Sam Pittman (left) is one of the three best offensive line coaches who are currently recruiting him. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Thomas knows 5-star freshman OT Isaiah Wilson. Wilson is redshirting.

“I know Isaiah personally,” Thomas said. “We talked before I came up there and we talked there. He was letting me know that this was the place to come.”

Wilson wasn’t playing right away, but he still shared a great impression of the program.

That was important.

“Coach told him straight to his face and in front of his parents and everything,” Thomas said. “He told him that his time was coming. He just had to keep working.”

That speaks to the seasons down the road.

“Georgia is building a dynasty,” Thomas said. “Just the same way we talked last time. You steadily see growth in Georgia football. From the first time when coach Kirby [Smart] got there until now. They are just going to keep growing. I’m talking now like they are not on top yet, but they are probably eventually going to be Bama-level in a couple of years.”

Thomas said that Georgia fixes its roster problems. The appeal of the school and the staff allows them to do that.

“When they didn’t have another quarterback or enough quarterbacks, they went out and got Justin Fields,” he said. “They stack up every position. You see them losing running backs after this year and they have gone out and got the best running backs in the nation. They’ve got two more coming in. Kirby Smart is just bringing the Bama mindset to Georgia. As long as he keeps doing that and takes what he learned from Alabama and brings that to Georgia, then they are going to be on the same level.”

How does Kardell Thomas compare Georgia to LSU? 

Thomas said his favorite part of the trip was the crowd.

“The game,” Thomas said. “Even though it started off slow, Georgia started to pick it up and the stadium just got live. Just out of nowhere. I would probably have to say the other part was the Dawgwalk. That was something I’d never experienced before. It was flooded out. I had to stand on top of something just to see it. They do that every Saturday, but that was my first time seeing it.”

“It was just amazing to me. I was at the Tate [Student Center], and it was amazing to me. It was like the president was there. Just amazing.”

Thomas told DawgNation last week that he likely would remain committed to LSU until he makes his final decision next year. How does UGA compare to LSU?

“That’s a hard question,” Thomas said. “I’d probably have to say I like how Georgia is just turnt up. They really are electrified from the beginning all the way to the end. From the Dawgwalk all the way to the end of the game. With LSU, I’m not saying they are boring. But there are times. I think everybody in the nation knows with LSU fans that if [The Tigers] are not doing good, then [the crowd] is going to let you know and [they] are going to boo you.”

He saw Georgia start off slow on Saturday in Sanford Stadium. Kentucky hung around in the first half before Georgia pulled away to win 42-13.

“Their fans still stayed in the game,” Thomas said. “They didn’t get out of their mindset to support their team thinking they were going to lose. I think LSU fans are kind of wishy-washy with that.”

Thomas said he only sees Alabama, Oklahoma and maybe Penn State among his top tier of schools with Georgia and LSU.

Georgia 2018 commit Kearis Jackson communicates with Thomas. They have a rapport. Jackson had a message for him on Saturday. So did 5-star WR Jadon Haselwood.

“Kearis told me on the sideline to stop playing and to go ahead on and flip,” Thomas said.

That’s going to take a lot of work. LSU has a tremendous program with a great tradition. It might even be harder for Georgia to pull an LSU commit out of that state than vice versa.

“Georgia is battling with LSU right now,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to lie. It was just a whole other feel. That is the only school which has or is at the same kind of level for me with LSU. I feel like LSU has got some heat behind them now.”

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed faster than Georgia All-America candidate Roquan Smith can find the football after the snap.