One of the top defensive linemen in the country has finally made his college decision, as five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas will spend his college days at Stanford. Thomas chose the Tree over 31 FBS offers, with Arkansas, Stanford and UCLA considered his finalists.
Stanford's class entered the day ranked in the top 15, and Thomas' commitment should help inch the Cardinal toward the final top 10.
SB Nation recruiting analyst Wescott Eberts evaluated Thomas last spring:
The central question regarding Thomas as a player is how much weight he can gain in college and still maintain his athleticism -- while Thomas is an excellent athlete for his size, can he keep his quickness while putting on the 30 or more pounds that he would need to make a full-time transition to a defensive tackle?
His greatest upside may be there if he can put on the weight because otherwise a defense might be best to employ him as a defensive end in a 3-4 to get the most from this skillset, requiring some tweaking of favored defensive fronts for many of the predominantly 4-3 defensive coordinators out there.
Powerfully built in both his upper and lower body, Thomas is already well filled out, making it difficult to project how much muscle mass he can add to his frame.
The overall strength translates to the field, though, mostly on the interior -- Thomas spent his sophomore season mostly playing defensive tackle and then played inside the tackles against as a junior.
His leverage is excellent coming off the ball, he has the ability to control opponents with his hands when defending against the run, then separating and making plays. He's flexible and fluid and capable of exploding out of his hips to deliver an excellent punch for a high school player. Even as a tackler and when moving in the backfield, Thomas is all power angles and explosiveness out of his crouch, though he does tend to drag down opponents more often than is ideal.
When rushing the passer from inside, Thomas makes plays with his strength and motor, especially on extended plays or situations where the quarterback tries to vacate the pocket.
It seems unlikely that Thomas ever spends much time as an edge rusher and, in fact, it's difficult to tell from his work in pads whether he has the quickness and technique to make an impact there in college. The guess is that he could effectively collapse the pocket with a bull rush, but wouldn't do much as a pure speed rusher.
Listed at 6'2.5 and 258 pounds, Thomas attends Coppell (Texas) High School. He's considered a five-star prospect by Scout and the 247Sports Composite, even though the other three recruiting services rate him as a four-star. The Composite also considers Thomas the 25th-best overall prospect in the nation, ranking him as the second-best strong-side defensive end in the nation and the third-best player in the talent-rich, high school football-crazed state of Texas.