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Minnesota Football Recruiting: Kiondre Thomas Commits

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Tracy Claeys officially lands his first recruit a day after officially becoming Minnesota's head coach, dipping down to Bielema country to grab a long and speedy cornerback for Jay Sawvel.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Let the Tracy Claeys recruiting era begin.

Could either bulk up to play boundary corner ala Eric Murray


Fork Smith (AR) Northside HS defensive back Kiondre Thomas committed to the Golden Gophers today, becoming the 18th prospect for the class of 2016 and first pledge for Tracy Claeys as the new Minnesota head coach. Thomas is a 3 star prospect according the the 247 Industry Composite, selecting Minnesota over reported offers from Mississippi State, Arkansas State, and Louisiana Tech -- where he was previously committed. Kiondre is the 3rd projected defensive back of this class.

Minnesota has the 32nd ranked class according to the 247Sports Industry Composite, good for 7th in the Big Ten.

Quotables

Kiondre with Scout's Ryan Burn's on his decision to commit($):

"I told myself I'd commit if they kept the same coaching staff at Minnesota and he called me tonight saying that he got the job, so I committed," Thomas said to GopherDigest Wednesday night. "He said it was great news and he was excited to have me. He wanted me to tell Coach Sawvel and Sawvel told me he's looking forward to coaching me. We're going to talk more about it on Thursday as he was helping his daughters with homework tonight. Minnesota wants me as a corner as the coaches say I remind them of Eric Murray."

Official visit review from Gopher247's Kyle Goblirsh($):

"It was great! Everything was amazing on the visit, it was just different from what I’m used to. Different in a good way."

A big reason for opening things up was the impression the Minnesota staff made on the visit.

"It was probably talking with the people about academics and also the game atmosphere," Thomas said regarding the most impressive aspect. "I’ll probably major in business or business management. We didn’t get to tour Carlson, but a professor from there sat down and talked with me about everything. My mom really love it."

ESPNU evaluation($):

Tall, leaner athlete with very good range and speed. Needs to continue developing his upper body strength. ... Shows he can play both man-to-man and zone coverage. Is difficult to beat at the high school level. Very good deep ball player who attacks the football at its highest point. Does a good job pressing and taking away leverage in man coverage. Polished ball skills.

(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**

** The section title is a bit. It's an intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.

Height: 6'0"
Weight: 170-173 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.46s electronic

Big 4 Ratings:

Site Stars Rating Position Rank
247 Composite 3 .8317 117
247 3 83 122
Rivals 3 5.5 N/A
Scout - - -
ESPN 3 74 71

Highlights

Junior year highlights:

Thoughts

Absurd Comparisons

Thomas is long, taller for a CB, and has great speed. The only thing he doesn't have as a high school prospect is bulk, thus preventing the obvious comparison to Eric Murray (Murray was fairly slight when he arrived on campus, so there's still time). Kiondre also doesn't flash the same aggressive tackling ability of Murray, but the mirrored route lockdown ability is there. He compares favorably to a taller, faster Michael Carter.

2016 Defensive Back Commits

Scheme Fit

If we go ahead with the assumption Claeys will keep the current staff intact moving forward, especially defense and strength and conditioning, where Thomas fits in depends on how his frame responds to training. I don't suspect Jay Sawvel, whom we're all guessing becomes the next defensive coordinator, will change what he wants or the way he coaches defensive backs. If his process and technique remains the same, Thomas could either bulk up to play boundary corner ala Murray, or focus more on his speed and footwork to play on the field side. He plays on the outside in high school, and doesn't look to have the fluid hips you'd like out of a slot/nickel CB.

Impact on Other Prospects?

Thomas likely fills up the required slots for cornerbacks in this class, and depending on how the staff views Tyler Johnson, they could be done in the secondary altogether.