The 90 Illini #39: Earnest Thomas July 24, 2012
6′-2″, 210 lbs.
rs-Sophomore (on scholarship, 3 years to play 3)
St. Mary’s HS / Orchard Lake, Michigan
ALE Ranking last year: #45
ALE Ranking in 2010: #31
What I Know About Him:
I know I now think it’s crazy that I had him ranked #31 in 2010. My reasoning, the way I remember it, was that we were extremely short on safeties. And a freshman might have to start. And I thought that freshman would be Earnest Thomas (it turned out to be STEVEHULL).
The main reason I was so high on Thomas was his offer list: Penn State, Missouri, Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, and others. I want to say he visited Wisconsin and Illinois on the final weekend and then picked Illinois on signing day.
Thomas arrived as a safety and then moved to Sam Linebacker. After a redshirt year and a freshman year at linebacker, he moved back to safety this spring. There’s probably a simpler way to put that. Vic Koenning saw him as a hybrid safety/linebacker. Tim Banks evidently sees him as a safety.
What I Expect From Him:
I’d guess he’s battling my boy Ben Mathis for one of the second string safety spots. STEVEHULL and Supo Sanni will start, and Patrick Nixon Youman will be the third safety, and then I’d guess it’s between Mathis and Thomas for the fourth guy. Thomas will also be out there on most coverage teams, I’d imagine.
Next year, with Sanni and PNY graduating, he has a chance to start. He might get a fight from Mathis, and he might have to hold off a true freshman like Caleb Day, but I could see our starting safeties in 2013 being STEVEHULL and Earnest Thomas. And then, but Thomas’ senior season, with Hull graduating, I think it’s probably set that he’s one of the starters. So that’s the trajectory I see. This year, 4th or 5th guy. Next year, 2nd or 3rd guy. Senior year, maybe QB of the whole defense.