Collins Hill linebacker Jonathan Thomas (9) and McEachern’s McKenzie Billingslea (98) dive for a loose ball during the second half of Friday’s Class AAAAAA third-round state playoff game at Collins Hill. (Photo: Kyle Hess)
Jonathan Thomas didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school.
The lack of exposure left him off the college recruiting radar.
That all changed midway through his senior season at Collins Hill. Thomas received his first offer from Syracuse on Halloween, so it only seemed fitting to commit to the Orange after this weekend’s official visit.
“I had such great time on my visit this weekend,” Thomas said. “I just liked the atmosphere they have to offer.”
Thomas chose Syracuse over offers from Oklahoma and Indiana and was getting serious interest from Georgia.
“Syracuse stood out because the coaching staff has been going after me strong,” Thomas said.
Thomas grew up playing soccer and didn’t try football until former Collins Hill quarterback Brett Sheehan convinced him to join the team.
By the fifth game of his senior season, Thomas showed he had Division I talent. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound linebacker had big games against state finalists Norcross and North Gwinnett, which were televised on TV.
“Oh man, it’s a blessing, honestly,” Thomas said. “I knew I was a good player, but I didn’t start playing until my junior year so no one really knew me.”
As a senior, Thomas posted 64 tackles and 7.5 sacks to help the Eagles win a share of the Region 7-AAAAAA championship.
He plans to major in communications.