Listed measurements: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: The one class on Notre Dame’s roster with clear eligibility parameters, Thomas has four seasons of eligibility remaining.
Depth Chart: The Irish will give their quartet of senior receivers all sorts of chances to finally step forward this preseason, but if a couple of them (continue to) falter, particularly Braden Lenzy at the field position, then Thomas and his fellow freshmen may get opportunities sooner than expected.
Recruiting: A consensus four-star prospect and the No. 45 receiver in the country, per rivals.com, Thomas turned down most of the SEC, including his homestate Georgia, when he chose Notre Dame. In landing Thomas, the Irish continued a recent trend of leaning on the Peach State, with notable signees such as safety Kyle Hamilton and tight end Tommy Tremble coming through in ways players from other southeastern states often have not.
No. 83? NOW?
Projecting the incoming freshmen’s uniform numbers is always nothing but pure conjecture, but there is also always some logic in those attempts. Thomas wore No. 4 in high school; Notre Dame does not have a No. 14 on offense. There was seemingly the possibility of a fit.
But in preparing for the preseason, the media relations team has updated incoming freshmen’s pages on the University website, and in doing so, revealed Thomas will be No. 83 this season.
So at the cost of very clearly being quite out of order, Thomas shows up now, along with his new number. And for that matter, three of the previous submission are corrected. Defensive end Jason Onye will wear No. 47, not No. 38. Kicker Joshua Bryan will wear No. 91, not No. 37. And defensive back Chance Tucker will wear No. 18, not No. 22, in a truly confounding choice given defensive end NaNa Osafo-Mensah is also listed as wearing No. 18.
NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
Not everything needs to be about money. Sometimes it is about fun, and whatever else this is …
WHAT WAS SAID WHEN THOMAS SIGNED
“Thomas’ 4.6-second 40-yard dash speed does not leap off the screen, but his acceleration and detailed footwork make him a dangerous route-runner, particularly pertinent at either the field position or the slot.
“The critique of the Irish roster this year, and to a lesser extent the last four years, has been a lack of outside playmakers. Stocking the roster with fundamental receivers like Thomas should change that in due time.
Be it at the field position or along the boundary, Thomas will be behind a senior (or two) given many chances to fail. That is not an outright luxury bestowed by the Irish coaching staff, but rather an attempt at getting the best players on the field no matter what. Notre Dame knows it needs to better develop its perimeter playmakers. In 2021, those most dangerous options will be Lenzy and classmate Kevin Austin.
That will all make getting on the field more difficult for Thomas, if not impossible on offense. But on special teams, his underrated physicality should translate.
Playing four games on coverage units would be a starting point for Thomas, and a starting point that could turn into more pretty quickly given the turnover on the Irish special teams this offseason.
DOWN THE ROAD
Thomas’ long stride belies his athleticism, but it will reveal itself in due time. That stride will be best used in the field role, where plenty of space is available, not to mention his 6-foot-1 frame is a bit undersized for the boundary role as offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has used it.
Lenzy may hold onto the starting role on the wide side through 2022, but after that, consider it up for grabs. While Thomas is not touted as much as the other two freshman receivers (Lorenzo Styles and Deion Colzie), a four-star prospect out of Georgia should be viewed with as much long-term optimism as nearly any other recruit.
NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 91 Joshua Bryan, incoming freshman kicker
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 47 Jason Onye, incoming and raw freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played
No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception
No. 35 Marist Liufau, junior Hawaiian linebacker
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, junior defensive end
No. 33 Shayne Simon, senior linebacker
No. 29 Matt Salerno, senior punt returner, walk-on
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, senior cornerback, possible nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, junior linebacker
No. 26 Clarence Lewis, sophomore cornerback, second-year starter
No. 25 Philip Riley, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, speedy sophomore running back
No. 24 Jack Kiser, junior linebacker, onetime pandemic hero
No. 23 Litchfield Ajavon, junior safety
No. 23 Kyren Williams, junior running back
No. 22 Logan Diggs, incoming freshman running back
No. 21 Lorenzo Styles, early-enrolled freshman receiver
No. 21 Caleb Offord, sophomore cornerback
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, senior running back, coming off an offseason with a smirch
No. 20 Justin Walters, early-enrolled freshman safety and likely early special teams contributor
No. 19 Jay Bramblett, junior punter
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, senior defensive end
No. 18 Joe Wilkins Jr., senior receiver, team favorite
No. 18 Nana Osafo-Mensah, junior defensive end, coming back from a knee injury
No. 18 Chance Tucker, freshman cornerback
No. 17 Jack Coan, graduate quarterback, Wisconsin transfer
No. 17 Jordan Botelho, sophomore defensive end, full-speed at all times
No. 16 Deion Colzie, incoming freshman receiver with both speed and leaping height
No. 16 KJ Wallace, junior safety, possible starting nickel back
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 14 Kyle Hamilton, junior safety, preseason All-American, top 2022 draft prospect