KNOXVILLE – Tennessee began its first spring practice on Saturday for the 2013 team, but it turned out to pay dividends for the 2014 recruiting class and beyond.
Offensive lineman Coleman Thomas committed to the Vols after being hosted as an unofficial visitor for the day. Thomas is a 6-6, 300-pound versatile lineman who can play all five spots on the line.
“Best day of my life thanks to everyone who supported me we WILL get number [national championship] 7,” Thomas said via Twitter after posting the announcement.
The Max Meadows, Va., resident attended junior day on Feb. 16 and landed an offer from offensive line coach Don Mahoney. He chose the Vols over offers from Virginia Tech, Virgina, Maryland, West Virginia and others.
Thomas is the second commitment for the class of 2014, joining athlete Vic Wharton, who pledged to the Vols on Christmas Day of 2012.
Scout.com: 3-star; No. 3 center in the nation
247Sports.com: 3-star, No. 7 center in the nation
247Sports.com Composite ranking: 3-star, No. 8 center in the nation
How he fits: The Vols are desperate for offensive linemen in the 2014 class. Faced with the possibility of losing all five starters from the 2013 team, rebuilding the unit will be a top priority for this class. Expect the Vols to take a minimum of five and as many as seven or eight.
Coleman brings extra value due to his versatility. Tennessee is expected to have a maximum of eight scholarship linemen return next year, so the incoming freshmen will be needed to fill in the depth chart immediately. His experience comes as a center in high school, but his tall frame is more standard for an offensive tackle. It’s too early to say where he’ll play exactly, but expect him to be in the mix on the two-deep depth chart as soon as he gets to Knoxville.
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee football for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga