Louisville Football continues its work in building up its 2022 recruiting class. Since the class will be small in size, there are few spots open to fill. In need of more depth and bulk on the defensive line, the staff went out and got a commitment from a defensive lineman that will provide plenty of both. 3 Star Tampa, FL defensive tackle Tawfiq Thomas made his pledge to the Cards today.
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 325 lbs, Thomas chose Louisville over a host of other offers. Before the Cards swooped in and made Thomas a part of the flock, he had released a final list of 4 schools he would choose from that included Michigan, Arkansas, South Florida (his hometown school), and Kansas. In addition to those schools, he had offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Cincinnati, Maryland, Syracuse, and Miami, among others. According to 247sports composite rankings, Thomas is a 3 Star prospect ranked as the 142nd-best defensive lineman in the class. Mark Ivey led UofL’s recruiting efforts for Thomas.
While playing for Gaither High School in 2020, Thomas recorded 53 tackles, an unbelievable 15 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions. During the 2021 season, Thomas has maintained his dominance. He recorded 43 total tackles so far, 15 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, forced 1 fumble, and had 4 QB hurries.
When looking at Tawfiq Thomas‘ highlights, he’s exactly what many UofL fans have been clamoring for in regards to interior linemen. Thomas stands out on film just for his shear size. He’s every bit of 6’3-6’4 and looks like a monster. He plays like one too. Thomas has good burst at the snap, is very strong and can overpower blockers, and understands how to use his massive body and arms to get angles to shed blocks and make tackles. He can eat up blocks to allow linebackers to make plays and can single-handedly defeat double team blocks to blow up running plays and put pressure on the QB.
I really like Thomas’ ability to disengage and defeat blocks. He uses a combination of power, technique, and movement. He’s obviously super strong and can bull rush through most blocks, getting into the backfield and blowing up run plays. Sometimes, though, he uses a well-timed burst at the snap to beat the opposing offensive lineman and a nice swim move over the top to get by them and get to the quarterback or running back. Another way he beats blocks is by taking an angle that makes it hard for the blocker to really engage the block. Often times, he will put a shoulder into the blocker’s body, get lower than the blocker to get leverage and make his way to his gap or to the ball carrier and make the play.
Thomas is such a burden on opposing offenses, they seem to designate him for double team blocks. He welcomes those blocks and eats them up, allowing his linebackers fill the gaps and make plays to stop rushing attacks. However, even when he’s being double teamed, he’s not just allowing them to block him to open up lanes for his linebackers into the backfield. No, Thomas can actually beat them with power, sometimes forcing two blockers backwards, or even split the double team and get into the backfield. He can even discard the blockers with his strength to make tackles.
For his size, he’s got good quickness. He’s able to chase down running backs when the play is going away from him or if they have already gotten past him. It tells me, as well, that his motor is always revving. Obviously, this is something we have all learned this staff covets.
One thing I failed to mention in the first paragraph is that Thomas understands his role. He’s smart and doesn’t try to do too much. When he can’t make the play, Thomas knows how to funnel a running back to his teammates so they can make the tackle. It’s something that doesn’t always come easy to a player, understanding what your role is on a particular play, during a game, or on a team, but Thomas seems to understand his and plays it to perfection.
All in all, Tawfiq Thomas is going to bring much-needed size and depth to the interior line. While I have praised his size, Thomas needs to get in better shape when he arrives on campus. Good news is, I think this program has proven they can get guys in great shape. With the fire and passion Thomas plays with, I think he will be able to get into shape and become a true force on the interior line. When you look at him, Thomas looks like a pro prospect with his size. His highlights show the size isn’t just aesthetic, but that Thomas knows how to use it and be a dominant force on the field. His stats show it too. I can’t think of an interior lineman Thomas reminds me of in recent memory. If he puts in the work in the weight room, Tawfiq Thomas has All-ACC potential. It’s clear that Thomas can be a type of player that other teams will have to key on when facing a UofL defense if he reaches his potential. Hopefully, we will be talking about him and his dominance in the 4 seasons to come.
*stats courtesy of MaxPreps