Q&A with new Georgia Tech QB recruit Justin Thomas, who de-committed from Alabama

QB Justin Thomas (Photo courtesy of 247Sports)

QB Justin Thomas (Photo courtesy of 247Sports)

Georgia Tech made big news in the recruiting world this week when quarterback Justin Thomas, who had been committed to Alabama for a year, switched to the Yellow Jackets.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder is from Alabama’s Prattville High School, and is ranked as a 4-star prospect and the No. 19 all-purpose athlete in the country by Rivals.com. Thomas and Central Gwinnett defensive end Francis Kallon are the highest-ranked members of Georgia Tech’s 14-member recruiting class, which will expand to 17-20 players by February’s national signing day.

Thomas is one of the Southeast’s fastest athletes, and has been consistently clocked in the 40-yard dash at around 4.3 seconds. He guided his high school team to Alabama’s Class AAAAAA state championship, winning MVP honors after registering more than 300 all-purpose yards in the game. For the season, Thomas finished with 1,652 passing yards, 896 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.

Thomas talked with the AJC’s Michael Carvell:

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Q. Why did you switch your commitment from Alabama to Georgia Tech? “We talked to Alabama, and they decided that they wanted to go another way with me. They weren’t 100-percent sure I would get to play QB. They said they wanted to go a different route. Now Alabama said it wasn’t like they didn’t want me because they still wanted me to sign there. They just felt like I wasn’t going to be a quarterback in their system. That’s what I want to do in college – play quarterback. I want to go somewhere where I would get a fair chance to do that.”

Q. When you committed to Alabama last year, and then many times since then, you’ve said Alabama promised they would give you a chance at QB first. When did things change with them? “A couple of weeks ago.”

Q. What was Nick Saban’s reaction when you de-committed from Alabama? “He wasn’t mad or anything like that. I guess it was because we had been telling Coach Saban since Day One that I wanted to play quarterback. There wasn’t any miscommunication about that, and he understood where I was coming from. Coach Saban said he still wanted me to come to Alabama but he just didn’t want me at the position that I wanted to play. He knew I loved QB. His reaction was basically that I had to make the best decision for myself and my future.”

Nick Saban (AP photo)

Nick Saban (AP photo)

Q. How did Georgia Tech get involved with you?I’ve been talking to them for a little while. I kept a connection with them, and we’d talk every now and then. When I decided to go to another school that would give me a shot at quarterback, Georgia Tech was one of the first places I thought about.

Q. Why did you pick Georgia Tech? “The coaches told me they’ve been looking for a QB and that I happen to be that guy. They said my skillset is a perfect fit for their offense. After hearing all of that, I felt like I couldn’t go wrong with Georgia Tech. There are other reasons than football. It’s close to the house, and the campus will be a nice place to be for the next four years. Even if I don’t go to the next level in football [the NFL], Atlanta seems like a nice place to live and find job opportunities. It was a win-win situation for me.”

Q. Your father said the Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson “sealed the deal” with you committing to the Yellow Jackets? “Coach Johnson came to my house last week and sat down with my family. They really liked what he had to say. He’s a good guy, easy to talk to, and easy to understand. He’s honest and tells you the truth. He’s really upfront with you about everything.”

Q. Georgia Tech already has one commitment at QB, Dennis Andrews of Tallahasssee. How did that affect your consideration of the Yellow Jackets? “Wherever you go to college, there’s going to be competition. You’ve got to work hard and beat other people if you want to play. Nothing is guaranteed. As long as I go in there and do what I’m supposed to do, I expect to play.”

Paul Johnson (AJC photo)

Paul Johnson (AJC photo)

Q. Why would you commit to Georgia Tech without ever taking an official visit there? Why not wait? “It was the sooner the better for me. I had gone up to Georgia Tech before, seen the school, and visited with the coaches. I kind of already knew what was up there and what to expect. I kept in touch with the coaches, so I had more of a relationship with them than with the other schools. I just always felt like Georgia Tech was a good place for me if things didn’t work out at Alabama.

Q. Since de-committing from Alabama, you’ve caught a lot of criticism on various message boards from fans of the Crimson Tide. What do you think about that? “Most people I’ve talked to are like ‘Is it really true that you de-committed and are going to Georgia Tech?’ They don’t seem upset. They were more shocked. As more time has passed, they seem to be more accepting. Now it’s like ‘OK, as long as you didn’t go to that other school’ – meaning Auburn.”

Q. Florida State hasn’t given up recruiting you, and showed up at your school this week. LSU and Oregon, among others, are keeping in contact. Will you visit schools other an Georgia Tech over the next six weeks? “I’ve always liked Florida State, and they’ve been one of my top choices. But the answer is ‘no.’ Once I made my next decision to go somewhere else, I was planning on staying with it. I’m not planning on visiting anywhere else. I’m going to Georgia Tech on Jan. 14 and that’s it. I’m a 100-percent committed to Georgia Tech.”

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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209 comments Add your comment

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:06 pm

Is this where I respond FIRST?

Nom Nom Nom Chuck's Taylor, or Norris if he is avaliable

December 16th, 2011
3:07 pm

What can he say? He like manoobies.

Jacket Man

December 16th, 2011
3:15 pm

And the trolls are off…how about giving it a rest through the holidays?

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:18 pm

Here is quote from Justin Thomas:
“They said my skillset is a perfect fit for their offense. After hearing all of that, I felt like I couldn’t go wrong with Georgia Tech”
________________________

If CPJ feels that Thomas’ skillset is a perfect FIT for GT’s Offense, then what does that say about the future for Vad Lee, I thought Vad Lee was the “perfect fit” for CPJ’s Offense a guy that is a very “polished” passer (according to many GT Fans), that can also show some mobility.

What I suspected to be true all along is coming to fruition, CPJ is not “really committed” to making GT a BETTER PASSING TEAM, his stubbornness is “forcing” him to prove that his offense will work at the BCS level by RUNNING THE BALL, running the Triple-Option, running his SYSTEM, and if he has to DECEIVE recruits like Vad Lee or Jordan Luallen in the process, the so be it.

Justin Thomas is nothing like Vad Lee as a QB, so I don’t see how Justin Thomas can have the PERFECT SKILLSET for CPJ’s Offense, when CPJ told Vad Lee that same thing just one year earlier.

Using “deception” and slick used car salesman tactics to get recruits to come to your school, KNOWING that they will be punished one-yr. if they transfer and are forced to sit out, will come back and bite GT in the behind, you don’t want to burn bridges with HS HCs. Many HS HCs in the same Region/Area are in close contact with each other and the word will get around.

I hope CPJ is thinking LONG-TERM and not short term.

Don’t get angry all you cult-like followers of CPJ, I am only giving a FB-based opinion & analysis.

Hammered Higgins

December 16th, 2011
3:18 pm

IF HE CAN BEAT HOOVER HE CAN BEAT UGA!

Nom Nom Nom Chuck's Taylor, or Norris if he is avaliable

December 16th, 2011
3:21 pm

JK, good luck to the man. I would prefer my son to PJ than Saban.

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:23 pm

Wow WnE. Just wow.

CraZy

December 16th, 2011
3:24 pm

So he’s starting school in January?? If so that means he’ll get to take part in spring practice and compete for the starting job with Vad.

GTBob

December 16th, 2011
3:25 pm

Since we never beat UGA, he must want to be an engineer and he sure does not want to play in the NFL.

Needs to go to Oregon

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:26 pm

Why are you so obsessed with GT? The blog, then multiple theses written on every single post that has to do with GT. Get a life man. OKCupid has plenty of other things for you to obsess over. Personally I would rather you obsess over a school you didn’t go to, and post on dozens of places on the internet….that likely means you will never procreate and will rid the gene pool of your stupidity.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:26 pm

This recruit’s mindset about play QB suggests that he won’t be willingto play A-back or DB if things don’t work out.

He talks about doing what HE WANTS to do, not so much about helping the PROGRAM win games.

There’s a lot of “I” in his comments and very little “WE” involved.

Be careful what you wish for fellow GT fans.

Just analysis, don’t blame the messenger.

DawginLex

December 16th, 2011
3:26 pm

He doesn’t fit the mold at bama for a pro style QB so the TO is a better choice.

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:28 pm

Also WnE, that boy seemed to have no problem throwing the ball down the field. Key word is boy. You sure do seem to want to obsess over 17-18 year old BOYS daily. You make it a major part of your life. Your new nickname should be “Sandusky”. or SnD

GTBob

December 16th, 2011
3:29 pm

Wow, my impersonators are posting even before I do now. Bravo. That said, I like this kid. He seems much less wishy washy then other recruits.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:30 pm

re:
CraZy
December 16th, 2011
3:24 pm

His Official Visit (OV) is on Jan. 14th, he’s not enrolling early or anything like that.

GT fans love to talk trash, but while they are doing that they don’t realize that they really don’t know very much about CFB.

GTBob

December 16th, 2011
3:30 pm

If CPJ feels that Thomas’ skillset is a perfect FIT for GT’s Offense, then what does that say about the future for Vad Lee

That Vad Lee has competition. Did you really think we were going to stop recruiting QB’s after Vad signed?

CraZy

December 16th, 2011
3:30 pm

WnE
Why are you so surprised that CPJ isn’t commited to the passing game… Has he ever shown any sign that he was going to be commited in the passing game???
This is a great get for CPJ players are not stupid they know there’s a chance they’ll get beat out for the job they want…. NO PLAYER is guarenteed a spot they have to work for it and win it!!!

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:31 pm

Actually WnE, you continue to demonstrate your ignorance daily, not just with CFB, but with many things. When it is pointed out, you switch names and / or never respond. Don’t you have some fragrance to sniff? How is KY this time of year?

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:31 pm

Athens Tech

December 16th, 2011
3:34 pm

“I’m going to Georgia Tech on Jan. 14 and that’s it. I’m a 100-percent committed to Georgia Tech.”
Early enrollment? Great decision. I love that he will be competing with Andrews, both pushing each other. Vad has been around the offense for a year now and will definitely have the advantage going into camp. Will be perfect for allowing both of the Freshmen to develop.
WnE – Let’s just see either one of them throw a pass in college before we judge them like that

CraZy

December 16th, 2011
3:34 pm

WnE
When did I talk trash??

I was asking a question…Hence the ??

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

December 16th, 2011
3:34 pm

Looks like a perfect fit for GT. Best of luck to the young man. Except when playing Ga.

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

What year? Funny that I could go dig a stanford class ring out of google image search. I could be an ivy league grad as well.

What makes it alright to obsess and harass high school athletes? You never have answered that question ;)

Athens Tech

December 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

Never mind about early enrolling

222-0

December 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

I believe he is going for his OV in Jan. However, Dennis Andrews is enrolling early.

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

BTW. Only men who like large inanimate objects shoved in their poop hole use words like “putz”. LOL

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

The fact you actually made the effort to contact high schoolers shows that you’re an all-out gay and have moved beyond the bi-curious mode of using the word “putz”.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:39 pm

re:
GTBob
December 16th, 2011
3:30 pm
That Vad Lee has competition. Did you really think we were going to stop recruiting QB’s after Vad signed?
________________

Poor analysis on your part.

I have never suggested that CPJ stop Recruiting QB.

But CPJ has told the GT fanbase on MANY occasions that pass-first QBs like Vad Lee are what is necessary to take GT to that next level.

AND THEN when the first opportunity arises he recruits a short runt that is a run-first QB.

Recruiting ONE pass-first QB(Vad Lee) and then recruiting a slew of non-throwing run-first QBs (Thomas, Dennis Andrews, etc.) doesn’t show much serious commitment to improving GT’s PASSING GAME.

CPJ’s promises to the GT Fans were to improve the GT Passing game, you cannot do that recruiting run-first QBs that are 5-10 to 5-11.

Poor analysis on your part.

I stand by my analysis and commentary.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:39 pm

re:
GTBob
December 16th, 2011
3:30 pm
That Vad Lee has competition. Did you really think we were going to stop recruiting QB’s after Vad signed?
________________

Poor analysis on your part.

I have never suggested that CPJ stop Recruiting QB.

But CPJ has told the GT fanbase on MANY occasions that pass-first QBs like Vad Lee are what is necessary to take GT to that next level.

AND THEN when the first opportunity arises he recruits a short runt that is a run-first QB.

Recruiting ONE pass-first QB(Vad Lee) and then recruiting a slew of non-throwing run-first QBs (Thomas, Dennis Andrews, etc.) doesn’t show much serious commitment to improving GT’s PASSING GAME.

CPJ’s promises to the GT Fans were to improve the GT Passing game, you cannot do that recruiting run-first QBs that are 5-10 to 5-11.

Poor analysis on your part.

I stand by my analysis and commentary.

GTBob

December 16th, 2011
3:40 pm

Once again putzes I graduated from GT:

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc409/OlWrecks/IMG0017.gif

Wow, a picture of a ring. Well i’m convinced now.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:42 pm

Sorry Jamar but that is MY GT class ring, you don’t even RECOGNIZE a GT class ring, yet you criticize me?

You don’t recognize the Ramblin Reck on the side of the ring?

You just EXPOSED yourself!

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc409/OlWrecks/IMG0017.gif

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc409/OlWrecks/IMG0019.gif

http://i1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc409/OlWrecks/IMG0013.gif

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:44 pm

Jmar what kind of IDIOT could confuse a Stanford class ring with a GT class ring, other than YOU of course?

FL Jacket

December 16th, 2011
3:45 pm

WnE…you obviously construe this…

“Thomas is one of the Southeast’s fastest athletes, and has been consistently clocked in the 40-yard dash at around 4.3 seconds. He guided his high school team to Alabama’s Class AAAAAA state championship, winning MVP honors after registering more than 300 all-purpose yards in the game. For the season, Thomas finished with 1,652 passing yards, 896 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns.”

…as a non Pass-first QB? Are you serious?

FL Jacket

December 16th, 2011
3:46 pm

WnE…

“CPJ’s promises to the GT Fans were to improve the GT Passing game, you cannot do that recruiting run-first QBs that are 5-10 to 5-11.”

Joe Hamilton…please go back to your hole OK?

reality man

December 16th, 2011
3:48 pm

Thomas won’t be playing anywhere in two years. He is too self-centered and at Tech just because you receive the snap, you still may not be a QB

Gorilla Biscuit

December 16th, 2011
3:49 pm

UGA would Gorilla stomp Hoover.

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
3:54 pm

smh. You are a class A retard. You have seriously lost brain cells from being reamed in the behind one too many times.

Key word is he’s a dual threat QB. You have neglected some of the other GT message boards, you know ones where you have posted over 600 times ;)

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:54 pm

re:
FL Jacket
December 16th, 2011
3:45 pm
______________

Fl jacket. I’m looking at throwing mechanics, arm strength, and a number of other factors other than HS Stats.

It’s kinda like saying that BOTH Aaron Murray & Tevin Washington are both throwing QBs since they both play QB and they both throw the ball sometimes.

From looking at HS film on both Justin Thomas & Dennis Andrews, neither project to be throwing QBs on the BCS-level which is WHY GT is the only BCS-Level schools willing to bring them in as QBs.

GT needs better throwers/passers at QB, not more 5-10 to 5-11 guys that are average HS passer at best.

GT won’t become an elite BCS-Level team without a better passer at the QB position.

Just because a Recruit has some Stats as a HS QB doesn’t mean that he can QB at the BCS level.

chas jacket

December 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

Justin welcome aboard – and ignore any posts from WnE. He’s just an ego trip pretending to be a GT fan/grad

alajacket

December 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

Vad Lee and Justin Thomas have similar skill sets. Both are good runners – Thomas is faster and Lee is bigger. Both throw well but not Laser-like. Both are accurate passers. I think that Coach Johnson knows exactly the skill sets that will be most effective in his offense. What’s the confusion here?

WnE

December 16th, 2011
3:57 pm

@Fl Jacket:

Joe Hamliton was Short, but he had a strong arm and great throwing mechanics, and Joe Hamilton was never thought of as a RUN-FIRST QB, he was thought of as a SHORT QB.

Sven Ottke

December 16th, 2011
3:59 pm

WnE, I’d prefer instead of standing on your analyis, or lackthereof, that you go stand in the interstate. Tech just garnered a commit from an outstanding football player with a strong head on his shoulders. How about finding the positive instead of the negative…..IF you are a Tech fan.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
4:00 pm

re:
alajacket
December 16th, 2011
3:57 pm
___________

If you think these 2 Recruits have the SAME skillsets at QB, then you’re looking at things through Yellow-Jacket-Colored-Glasses (YJCGs).

FL Jacket

December 16th, 2011
4:04 pm

WnE…

“Fl jacket. I’m looking at throwing mechanics, arm strength, and a number of other factors other than HS Stats.”

Holy Crap, had no idea I was communicating with an expert level HS football talent evaluator.

Here’s my turn. If it wasn’t a horrible waste of a year of eligibility…I’d already be penciling in Justin Thomas to return kicks as he’s working his way up the QB depth chart. A guy like him will make an impact on the field whatever position he plays. What stands out about JT is his ability to maneuver in tight spaces, find daylight, and make a play. Sounds like an ideal option QB to me.

This fixation with having a throwing-heavy offense is stupid. While I would like to see some option looks out of the shotgun…if a team falls behind they are just as likely to comeback to tie the game as they are to fall deeper behind in the score with a passing offense.

And besides, when you fall behind, you’d better have a defense able to dial it up and stop the opposition.

Dalton Dawg

December 16th, 2011
4:05 pm

I for one think Tech hit a home run with this get! I seen him play the title game and this kid can play much better than what they have now. It will be interesting to see how him and Lee will work out fighting for the QB job. But if Tech don’t recruit some big guys on the lines it will not matter who will be the QB. I wish him luck and anytime some one turns their back on Saban it’s a win win. Good luck to you with the exception of that fall day in Athens next year. Go Dawgs!

georgia man

December 16th, 2011
4:05 pm

“we” talked to alabama. thats good.

WnE

December 16th, 2011
4:07 pm

re:
FL Jacket
December 16th, 2011
4:04 pm
____________________

If the recruit in question, Justin Thomas is willing to turn down Bama at the thought of playing another position (non-QB), then WHY do you believe he will CHANGE and play another position for GT?

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
4:08 pm

Fl Jacket, of course he’s an expert, he obsesses over high school recruits every day. There is a good possibility Wrexie would like to do more than that with them. He created an entire blog to obsess over them. If you were harassing my son, I would have sought out a restraining order. Psychopath.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

Best of luck at GT Justin. Nick needed the slot and this fine young person gets a chance to play QB at a great college!!! Roll Tide

Jmar

December 16th, 2011
4:11 pm

What year did you graduate Wrexie?