Ely is loaded with senior talent this year. With four
legitimate Division I prospects and several more whose
on the field performance could earn a shot at a
scholarship, Ely is fast across the board and will
contend for a state title under new Head Coach Greg
McGirt. Thomas is the leader that the whole team
rallies behind, but his leadership is particularly
evident on defense where he is a big time playmaker.
He is very interested in the Florida Gators.
In late March Thomas visited Gainesville for Junior
Day at the University of Florida.
Like a sponge, he absorbed everything he could about
UF and came away impressed with the campus, staff and
“It was great … I liked everything about Florida,” he
said. “That is why they are number one right now
because of that great Junior Day. I saw the scrimmage
and I liked the intensity and the fire in those guys.”
There is a warm, familiar and friendly connection to
the Florida Gators in the form of a certain assistant
coach who recruits Broward County for the Florida
Gators. Coach John “Doc” Holliday is almost like
“Doc recruited my dad, J.T. Thomas, to West Virginia,”
Thomas said. “So yeah, I have talked to Doc a few
The 6-2, 205 pound outside linebacker prospect has
already notched qualifying scores on both the SAT and
ACT. He’s got a core grade point average of nearly 3.0
and an overall GPA that exceeds 3.0. Math is his
favorite subject. He’s taking pre-calculus at the
moment and is planning to take calculus during his
senior year. He plans to graduate high school in
December so he can enroll in college in January, 2006.
He has plans to major in engineering.
Basketball has kept him occupied in the winter months,
but the Ely hoops team will have to find a replacement
next season. He’s hanging up his basketball high tops
for a pair of high tops with cleats. He understands
that his sports future lies with football.
“When you try to be a star in what you are doing, you
have to be true to one thing,” Thomas said.
Thomas likes the chances for his team to succeed this
year. With all the returning seniors and his
leadership, he thinks Ely can take another step.
“We have a good team coming back … we have a great
defense coming back,” he said. “I think we have nine
seniors coming back on defense and maybe the top three
running backs in the state.”
His leadership is key but his physical presence on the
field is what the Tigers want to see. His teammates
draw off of his leading personality, but he certainly
that he is capable of leading with his play on the
“I like staying between the tackles and hitting hard,”
he said. “I can run pretty well … I run a 4.62 in the
40. I am just trying to keep everything together. I
can play middle or outside … I like it all.”
Thomas models his game after one of the very best.
“Right now I really like Ray Lewis (ex-Miami
Hurricane, perennial All-Pro with the Ravens),” he
said. “I recorded his special just so I could watch it
over and over again.”
Although he hasn’t received an offer from Florida, the
Gators are his favorite. He’s received three offers so
far and more are on the way.
“Right now Florida’s number one, I also like Miami and
West Virginia,” he said. “I have offers from West
Virginia, Ole Miss, and Akron.”
He has started the thinking process for making that
final decision. This will be the biggest decision of
his life so Thomas wants to make sure he covers all
the bases. He is aware that this is a choice that will
affect his entire future.
“It all comes down to who is the best (his scholarship
choices),” he said. “When I lay it all out I see who
is leading with one thing or another. I want to see
who will help my future the most after football.
Hopefully I will make the right decision.”
James Thomas is a solidly built linebacker. Off the
field he has a friendly and engaging personality. On
the field he becomes a silent assassin, ready to stick
a dagger in the heart of Ely’s opponents. Coach McGirt
said it best.
“He has a totally different personality on the field,”
he said. “Off the field he is the nicest kid you could
meet. On the field he is totally aggressive.”
It is not a question of if James Thomas will be
playing linebacker for a Division I school in 2006.
The only question is where. The offers have started
coming in and more will follow so he will have his
choice of schools.